South complete convincing win
South Zone 477 (Badrinath 136, Pandey 74) and 178 for 3 (Uthappa 71, Mukund 64*) beat North Zone 337 (Dogra 167) and 317 (Manhas 79, Aravind 3-76) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
After a patient, and at times innovative, performance by their bowlers, South Zone's batsmen played as if they had already made plans for a celebration on Sunday, scoring at 7.52 an over and making sure they completed the win on the fourth day itself. The victory marks the first time South has lifted the Duleep Trophy since the 1995-96 season.
North had stumbled from 230 for 3 to 317 all out, leaving South 178 to win and Robin Uthappa had no intention of waiting until the fifth day to complete the chase. Uthappa went berserk on a flat track, smashing fours and sixes to all parts of the ground. The contest between Ishant Sharma and Uthappa was one to watch, after the two had been involved in an altercation on the second day that had cost them both their match fee. Uthappa was the clear winner of the bout. He slapped Ishant for six in his first over, and then pulled him for four in his next.
One sensed at this stage that Uthappa was looking to finish it on Saturday itself, and that was made clear in the next over, when Uthappa mauled a hapless Sumit Narwal for 19 runs. On a slow wicket that was providing no sideways movement, Narwal was treated like a gentle medium-pacer. Uthappa was lucky to have an edge carry over the slips for four, but the next three shots were all off the middle of the bat. He dismissed Narwal over mid-on for four, guided him over the slips for another boundary, and then pulled him over fine leg for his second six of the innings.
The mayhem continued when Amit Mishra brought himself on, with Uthappa favouring the straight boundaries but mixing things up with a reverse sweep to the deep point fence. When Uthappa holed out to Narwal, skying one to long-off, he had scored 71 off 45 balls with three sixes, and South had already brought up their 100 with 14 overs bowled.
Yashpal Singh dismissed Amit Verma in the next over, but there was little respite for North as Manish Pandey came in and played in typically aggressive fashion. Pandey smashed three sixes and two fours before falling to Yashpal Singh, but by then South needed just 12 runs to win. Abhinav Mukund had been relatively quiet while Uthappa was around, but opened up after his opening partner was dismissed. He finished the match with a six over long-on off Shikhar Dhawan. South had taken just 23.4 overs to reach North's total.
The target North set was never going to be enough, and they would have hoped to have got more after Mithun Manhas and Paras Dogra had put together 85 for the fourth wicket. Sreenath Aravind had switched to left-arm spin instead of his seamers, and got the crucial wicket of Manhas, for 79. Manhas got a leading edge and Pandey took the catch at cover. Dogra was soon to follow, this time to South's regular left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, playing an unnecessary slog and holing out to cover.
Yashpal Singh held one end up, but the wickets kept falling at the other end. Aravind got another with his left-arm spin - an arm ball deceiving Uday Kaul - and Abhimanyu Mithun wiped out the tail with the new ball.
North were out for 317, and though the speed of South's chase was unexpected, they were always favourites to win after dominating most of the match.