North hit back after Mohanty's heroics
North and East Zones were jockeying in a tense battle for supremacy in their Duleep Trophy clash at the North-East Frontier Railway Stadium in Guwahati on Thursday. Debashish Mohanty ripped through the muchvaunted North batting line-up with a six wicket burst to restrict them to just 206. But two late strikes by Ashish Nehra threatened to nullify East's advantage.
After North won the toss and elected to bat, Mohanty packed off skipper Vikram Rathour for one in the third over, caught by wicket keeper Deep Dasgupta who was to have a busy day. The 24 year old Orissa medium pacer went on to inflict yet another failure on the struggling Yuvraj Singh, taking a return catch when the batsman had made just six.
Akash Chopra and Dinesh Mongia strove to restore parity but the former was not in his elements. Having laboured for 44 balls to make nine, Chopra, who was coming off two hundreds and a fifty in his last three innings, fell to Javed Zaman. The third seamer Mihir Diwakar shared in the spoils, removing the dangerous Virender Shewag, another batsman in the midst of a purple patch, to leave North at 61/4.
The procession continued as Reetinder Sodhi, having put on 38 with Mongia, was fired out by Zaman. Wicket keeper Vijay Dahiya barely troubled the scorers, keeping his opposite number Dasgupta in business by offering a catch off Mohanty. Off spinner Sharandeep Singh proved to be a willing ally for Mongia as the two fashioned a 40 run stand in just 5.2 overs. Sharandeep struck five boundaries and a six in a rapid 29 off 17 balls.
The 23 year old Mongia has been in rousing form this season with a triple hundred in the Ranji Trophy and a double hundred in the Duleep Trophy and after providing stiff resistance for two and three quarter hours, he was eighth out for 72 (100 balls, 14 fours). North were tottering on 158/8 but Rahul Sanghvi and Ashish Nehra both made a couple of twenties at the end to help the total past the 200 mark. Mohanty polished off the tail to finish with 6/58 with Zaman and Diwakar sharing the rest, spin being used for just seven of the 63.1 overs.
Nehra proceeded to fire out both openers Nikhil Haldipur (1) and Shiv Sunder Das (3) in his first four overs in a spell of 6-3-4-2. Rashmi Ranjan Parida and nightwatchman Mihir Diwakar survived as East limped to 26/2 off 14 overs.