Incredible Yusuf seals record chase
West Zone 541 for 7 (Yusuf 210*, Pathak 130, Jaffer 66) and 251 (Yusuf 108, Ganapathy 5-75) beat South Zone 400 (Dinesh Karthik 183, Satish 53, Irfan 5-100) and 386 (Dinesh Karthik 150, Gautam 88, Kulkarni 5-58) by three wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out
Yusuf Pathan's herculean, but fortuitous, unbeaten 210 helped West Zone achieve the biggest chase in first-class history, running down the target of 536 with three wickets in hand to win the Duleep Trophy final. It surpassed the previous highest first-class chase of 513 for 9 between Central Province and Southern Province in the 2003-04 Sri Lankan domestic season. South Zone had only themselves to blame because they dropped Yusuf five times - three were sitters - and it all came down to which team could hold its nerve better under pressure.
At the start of the final day, Yusuf was unbeaten on 84 with his team needing 157 with four wickets in hand. He began the day with a boundary off the first ball, driving the seamer C Ganapathy over extra cover. Yusuf did the same to Alfred Absolem in the next over as he sped towards his century. He reached three figures for the second time in the match in signature style, cutting Ganapathy to the deep backward point boundary.
A resolute Pinal Shah blunted the South Zone attack on the final morning while Yusuf continued to flay the bowling, aided by a runner after cramping up, and the butter fingers of the fielders. Shah's role was simple - all he had to do was defend and give Yusuf support. He plodded to six off 40 deliveries and he remained on that score for the next 31.
South were desperate for a breakthrough but when the opportunity arrived, they let it slip, literally. Their first blunder came when Ganapathy dropped Yusuf off his own bowling, fumbling on his follow through. He was on 102 then. It was Yusuf's third reprieve, having been let off on 15 and 65 on Friday.
The bowler who suffered the most due to the let-offs was Aushik Srinivas, the left-arm spinner from Tamil Nadu playing his first Duleep final. Having been let down twice on the fourth day, there was more agony on the fifth as Srinivas watched KB Pawan grass a sitter at backward point. Yusuf, on 125, sliced it to Pawan's left and poor Srinivas looked on helplessly as the fielder grabbed at the ball too early.
Yusuf continued to gamble by taking on the bowling, carting the ball over the infield if it was pitched up and cutting if there was width. Shah fell for 16, spooning a catch back to the spinner Rohan Prem, but he had done his job, supporting Yusuf in an invaluable stand of 105 for the seventh wicket.
Prem, however, was at the receiving end of a Yusuf onslaught. The batsman smashed him for five fours and three sixes to blaze towards the target. Yusuf had started cramping up, and called for a runner - his brother Irfan Pathan - when on 144. West were 80 short of the target then and it was at that stage when Yusuf really slaughtered Prem, bringing up his 150 with a boundary past cover.
South committed another blunder when CM Gautham, keeping in place of Dinesh Karthik, let go another sitter with Yusuf on 170, this time off Ganapathy an over before lunch. South had one last chance when 22 runs were needed, Ramesh Powar would have been caught yards short if there was a direct hit from point, but the throw sailed wide. Powar has worked hard on his batting this season, and it showed during his confident 28-ball 18.
Yusuf decided to settle the match in a jiffy after Powar's run-out opportunity, slamming two consecutive sixes off Prem to bring up his double-century. The final flourish was, fittingly, reserved for Yusuf, who smashed S Aravind over long-on to seal the record chase. It was a classic follow-up to the Ranji final recently, which also went down to the wire in Mysore, attended by thousands. Had the local authorities persisted with their decision to keep the public away from this game, over security issues, this Duleep final would only have been witnessed by policemen in the stands.