Test specialist Pragyan Ojha’s deadly spell (6/48) of left-arm spin bowling enabled South Zone record a crushing innings and 38 runs victory over Central Zone to clinch a place in the Duleep Trophy final.
South Zone,who had virtually sealed a final berth on the third day itself after ensuring a first innings lead,declared at 467 for nine having played one over in the morning.
Needing 258 runs to avoid innings defeat,Central Zone again batted poorly as they were all out for 220 in only 57.2 overs even before tea on the final day. The innings was terminated after the fall of ninth wicket as veteran Mohammed Kaif didn’t come out to bat as he was injured.
In fact,all the nine Central wickets were snapped up by the spin trio of Ojha (20.2-5-48-6) and off-spinners Baba Aparajith (2/35) and Malolan Rangarajan (1/58).
It turned out to be a great outing for young Aparajith,who backed his double century in the quarter-final against West with another solid show against Central. A century and four-wicket match-haul (2/13 and 2/35 in two innings) will definitely keep the selectors interested when they announce the next assignment for India ‘A’ team.
Only Vineet Saxena (67) and Piyush Chawla (73; 56b,10×4,2×6) were the two notable contributors for Central.
Ojha struck a disciplined line as he also got a few to classically pitch on the leg-middle and turn towards off-stump.
The India left-arm spinner got three quick wickets of Robin Bist (20),Shalabh Srivastava (2) and Naman Ojha (0) in a space of four overs to set up an outright win. In fact,one particular spell of his read 6-3-8-4.
Having conceded a big lead on the third day itself,the Central batsmen didn’t have any motivation left as the will to grind it out there in the middle was completely missing.
Central Zone 209 & 220 in 57.2 overs
(Piyush Chawla 73,Vineet Saxena 67,Pragyan Ojha 6/48,Baba Aparajith 2/35).
South Zone 467/9 decl (Abhinav Mukund 111,Baba Aparajith 109,Piyush Chawla 4/159). South Zone won by an innings & 38 runs.