Breathtaking knock by Ramesh as South take command
A breathtaking 99 from Sadagoppan Ramesh and unbeaten half centuries by skipper Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman helped South to a formidable 296/2 on the second day of their Duleep Trophy clash against West Zone at Surat's Lalbhai Contractor's Stadium. This was after a dismal collapse earlier in the day by West, which slipped from their overnight 310/3 to 376 all out in just over 21 overs.
After a trying time for the South bowlers on the first day, they swifly claimed the ascendancy on the second morning as West lost four wickets in the first six overs for the addition of sixteen runs. With the fourth ball of the day, Dodda Ganesh removed Jacob Martin for 89, caught by Laxman in the slips. The other overnight batsman, Vinod Kambli duly completed his half century in 60 balls before knocking one back to Ganesh for 56.
Three balls later Abhijit Kale was run out for one and skipper Nayan Mongia followed shortly afterwards for the same score, caught off Aashish Kapoor. Ajit Agarkar and Sairaj Bahutule added 30 for the eighth wicket before Ganesh fired out both men in successive overs. Sunil Joshi claimed his third scalp by bowling last man Lalit Patel to terminate the innings in the 112th over. The persevering Ganesh collected the best figures of 4/81 in 29 overs.
South openers Sridharan Sriram and Sadagoppan Ramesh proceeded to add 139 for the first wicket in just 29 overs. They scored the runs in contrasting styles, Sriram labouring for 95 balls to make 38 before he was caught behind off Iqbal Siddique. Ramesh on the other hand caned a 99-ball 99, 76 of which were scored off boundaries, before being bowled by Bahutule. From there on Laxman and Dravid forced the West attack into submission, adding an unbroken 141 in 32.2 overs. Laxman, with nine centuries in his last nine games, marched inevitably towards yet another, unbeaten on 80 (111 balls, 12 fours) while Dravid was keeping him company on 60 (106 balls, 7 fours).