Dinda takes seven as East reach final
East Zone 267 (Tiwary 145, Mithun 4-68) and 215 (Behera 60, Kumar 3-10) drew with South Zone 244 (Kumar 61, Saxena 3-37) and 85 for 8 (Appanna 24*, Dinda 7-26)
Fast bowler Ashok Dinda's seven-wicket haul brought East Zone to the brink of a stunning victory in Visakhapatnam before an unbeaten 43-run ninth-wicket partnership saved South Zone the humiliation and helped them to draw the game. The result, however, didn't matter as the East Zone marched into the final of the Duleep Trophy courtesy a first-innings lead.
South's collapse started in the third over, when opener Abhinav Mukund was bowled by Dinda. South had not added to their score when Dinda bowled No. 3 Ramaswamy Prasanna for a duck in the fifth over. After 14.2 overs, he had claimed all seven wickets to fall to reduce South to 40 for 7 and he became only the third bowler after Ramesh Powar and Ravi Shastri to have two seven-wicket hauls in the Duleep Trophy. When No. 9 Abhimanyu Mithun was dismissed by seamer Basant Mohanty, East Zone had a miraculous victory in sight. That was not to be as wicketkeeper Muralidharen Gautam and No. 10 KP Appanna stuck for 61 more deliveries to deny East the win.
When the day started, East Zone had a lot to do to be in a secure position in the game. At 129 for 6, middle-order batsman Biplab Samantray and Mohanty struck a partnership to rescue them. Samantray departed after having scored a half-century, and his side managed to go past the 200-run mark, to be eventually bowled out for 215.
South Zone, chasing 239 off 51 overs, were then reduced to 85 for 8 in 36 overs before the two teams agreed on a draw with 15 overs remaining.
North Zone 451 (Yuvraj 208, Dhawan 121, Praveen 4-92) and 187 for 4 decl. (Dewan 80, Saxena 2-51) drew with Central Zone 469 (Bhuvneshwar 128, Mishra 4-162) and 39 for 1
Central Zone are the other team who have qualified for the final, thanks to Bhuvneshwar Kumar's century and his 127-run last-wicket partnership with No. 11 Rituraj Singh that secured an improbable first-innings lead. The match was controlled by North Zone for the most part through Yuvraj Singh's double-century on his return to first-class cricket. The game hung in the balance by the end of the third day, when Central needed 10 more runs with only a wicket left to secure the lead.
North Zone had to wait for that final elusive wicket for 31 overs, but that arrived only after Central Zone went ahead by 18 runs ahead.
North Zone still attempted to force a result out of an impracticable position. Opener Rahul Dewan scored 80, putting on 75 and 54 runs respectively with fellow opener Shikhar Dhawan and No. 3 Nitin Saini. At 129 for 1, they lost two quick wickets, and Paras Dogra scored 24 to take them to 187 for 4 before they declared. Central Zone played 13 overs to take the game to its inevitable conclusion - a draw.