East Zone v North Zone, Rajkot, 1st day February 11, 2008

Paul and Manhas share honours

Cricinfo staff

North Zone 260 for 7 (Manhas 88, Mishra 52, Paul 4-60) v East Zone

Shib Paul took four wickets as North Zone were limited to 260 on the first day © Getty Images

Captain Mithun Manhas' 88 and some spirited late-order resistance helped North Zone battle back into their Duleep Trophy match against East Zone in Rajkot. After a top-order collapse, North clawed back to end the day on a competitive 260 for 7 in what is a virtual semi-final in Group A.

After opting to bat, North crawled to 20 for no loss in the 19th over before Aakash Chopra lost his off stump to Shib Paul, the seamer. Shikhar Dhawan and Karan Goel also fell in quick succession to leave North in trouble at 28 for 3.

Manhas and Yashpal Singh (25), who boasts an impressive first-class average of 57.36, stemmed the rot with a 54-run partnership before Paul had Yashpal offering a catch to wicketkeeper Halhadar Das. Another significant stand (of 79) between Manhas and Rajat Bhatia took North to 161.

Though Manhas' breezy knock, which included thirteen fours and a six, helped his team weather the initial storm, his dismissal left them at 183 for 6. Uday Kaul and Amit Mishra, though, rescued North with a fighting 77-run stand. Mishra carted seven boundaries and a six in his 52 before becoming Paul's fourth victim, caught brilliantly at the boundary by Wriddhiman Saha falling backwards. Kaul remained unbeaten on 40, with Chetanya Nanda giving him company at the crease.

For East, Tushar Saha, who took seven wickets in their previous game against South Zone, was expensive, conceding more than four-and-a-half runs per over without taking a wicket while former international Debasis Mohanty bowled economically and picked up two wickets.