North sniffing victory after stunning Nehra spell
North Zone took a pincer grip on the second day of their Duleep Trophy clash against East Zone at Guwahati's North-East Frontier Railway Stadium. A magnificent spell of 7/14 in 14 hostile overs by Ashish Nehra wrecked the hosts for just 81. Batting again, North were bowled out for 268 in less than 58 overs with Yuvraj Singh and Vijay Dahiya slamming aggressive half centuries. East are left with the task of scoring a daunting 394 in two full days to close out an unlikely victory.
Having taken both wickets last evening, Nehra lost little time this morning in establishing his stamp over the proceedings as East resumed on 26/2. With just two runs added, nightwatchman Mihir Diwakar was removed in the third over of the day. The year old paceman followed this up by dismissing Rashmi Parida for 28 and Rohan Gavaskar for a second ball duck. East were down to 49/5 and Nehra had scalped all five.
Skipper Rathour proceeded to introduce a double spin attack in the form of Sharandeep Singh and Rahul Sanghvi. Both lived up to the faith reposed by their captain, scalping three wickets between them in the space of 3.3 overs to leave East floundering at 80/8. Nehra returned to fire out the last two men in the same over, as North grabbed a lead of 125. Parida's score remained the highest in an innings in which only two men reached double figures, the other being stumper Deep Dasgupta.
Debashis Mohanty struck immediate retribution, having Akash Chopra caught behind with the first ball of North's innings. Rathour stuck a brisk 35 but it was Yuvraj Singh who set hearts aflutter, blasting 77 (78 balls, 14 fours) in just over two hours. The rest of the middle order failed but keeper Vijay Dahiya, back after missing the entire action in North's first two games, smacked 70 (81 balls, 10 fours, 2 sixes).
With Sharandeep Singh, who is fast becoming an accomplished batsman in his own right, Dahiya added 82 for the seventh wicket. North's last four wickets fell in a heap for ten runs, Sharandeep remaining unbeaten on 42. Off spinner Sanjay Raul snapped up 3/24 in just 5.4 overs while left arm spinner Sukhbinder Singh also collected three scalps.