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January 29, 2010
South Zone 295 (Ashwin 58, Gautam 52, Praveen 5-82) and 293 for 5 (Badrinath 82, Ashwin 59*, Pandey 59) beat Central Zone 333 (Kaif 112, Chawla 90, Vinay Kumar 5-102, Mithun 3-64) and 252 (Raina 59, Chawla 56, Ashwin 6-67) by 5 wickets
South Zone's resilience, through the course of the match and, in the face of early setbacks on the fourth day earned them a well-deserved five-wicket win over Central Zone in Indore. Resuming at 57 for 1, South's chase of 291 was rocked in the first hour by Central's seam attack. The overnight batsmen, Abhinav Mukund and Arun Karthik, were dismissed for the addition of just 15 runs. The time was ripe for a heroic rearguard, and a day after being included in the national side, Subramanian Badrinath seized the moment in style. At the other end, Manish Pandey did his cause no harm, striking a typically stroke-filled 59 with eight fours and a six. The duo added 102 in good time, giving their side the ascendancy, before RP Singh breached Pandey's expansive drive to hit the stumps. Badrinath however, was not going to give it away and, mixing caution and aggression in the right proportions, took his side closer. He was finally sent back, 18 short of a hundred, with the target still 63 runs away. If Central entertained any thoughts of triggering a collapse, Ravichandran Ashwin quickly put paid to them, and asserted his influence on the match for the third time in three days. He smashed twelve fours in a 44-ball 59 and it was fitting that he and Muralidharen Gautam completed the remarkable comeback that they had initiated on the second day.
West Zone 769 (Nayar 259, Powar 109, Vikas Mishra 4-154) and 345 for 7 (Rohit Sharma 116, Pujara 110, Vikas Mishra 4-96) drew with North Zone 294 (Kohli 56, Bhatia 53, Jadeja 3-54, Irfan Pathan 3-69)
While the action in Indore was edge-of-the-seat through the course of the final day, it was a slow burn to a foregone result in Rajkot, as West Zone sitting back on their monumental first-innings lead, played out a draw against North Zone. Having not enforced the follow-on, West had already killed the match as a contest, and the only interest on the final day centred around individual performances. Resuming at 56 for 1 on the final day, West batted on to accumulate 289 runs in the 75 overs that were bowled before the match was called off. In the process, Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma struck attractive hundreds, and served the national selectors a reminder, albeit a day late. Rohit, in particular, was at his belligerent best, crashing five sixes in his 116 that came at a brisk strike-rate. Vikas Mishra picked his second four-wicket haul of the match, while Ravindra Jadeja helped himself to a fifty in the closing stages of play.
The stalemate notwithstanding, West Zone proceed to the finals of the Duleep Trophy, where they will meet a confident South Zone.
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