North Zone retain Duleep Trophy
North Zone duly completed the formalities on Sunday and retained the Duleep Trophy. They had virtually made sure of this on the third day of their game against Central Zone and about the only interest on the final day was whether they would underline their overwhelming superiority and go on to register an outright victory at the Feroze Shah Kotla grounds. However despite getting a first innings lead of 261 runs early on Sunday, they opted to bat again and at stumps were 233 for eight wickets off 56 overs with Yuvraj Singh helping himself to an aggressive 130.
All the same, the individual honours on the final day were claimed by Yere Goud. The 29-year-old Railways veteran, who was 67 at close of play yesterday, remained unbeaten with 107. Out of the 69 runs that Central Zone scored today, Goud got 40. But he remained indebted to the last two batsmen Murali Kartik and Salabh Sriwastava who stayed with him long enough for him to get to the three figure mark. First, with Kartik (27) he added 42 runs for the ninth wicket off 15.3 overs. And then Sriwastava stood by him as he reached his hundred. The two pushed the score along by 39 runs in an association that lasted 13 overs and 46 minutes. By the time Sriwastava was bowled by Harbhajan Singh for five off the 42nd delivery he faced, Goud had reached his objective. The right hander batted five hours, faced 222 balls and hit 13 fours and two sixes.
With North Zone opting to bat again, there was no competitive interest in the rest of the match. But Yuvraj Singh helped himself to a hundred which may do some good for his morale. He batted 3-1/2 hours, faced 145 balls and hit 16 fours and three sixes.
North Zone finished their engagements with this fixture. Their tally of 23 points from four games cannot be reached. The only interest now in the final round of matches, commencing on February 1, is to see which team finishes runner-up. East Zone play West Zone and South Zone meet Central Zone in the two games. For the record, East have 13 points, Central 11, West nine and South eight, all from three games each.