April 3, 2002

Debang Gandhi cracks a brilliant hundred

Staff Reporter

East Zone were 341 for five at the close of play on the first day of the four-day Duleep Trophy match against South Zone at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Tuesday.

South Zone skipper MSK Prasad won the toss and decided to ask East Zone to bat first, a decision he was made to regret by the East Zone opening batsmen Debang Gandhi and Parag Das. The two batsmen put together 127 runs off just 24 overs to give East Zone a solid start.

Das was very aggressive, scoring 78 runs off 88 balls with the help of a dozen hits past the ropes. His hard-hitting knock came to an end when he played all over a delivery from young off-spinner Hemal Watekar.

Orissa batsman Rashmi Parida then joined Gandhi in the middle and kept the run-rate going briskly. East went in for lunch with the score at 139/1 off only 28 overs. Parida made a fluent 41 off 69 balls, striking eight fours before being caught by Nekkanti Madhukkar off the bowling of Sridharan Sriram. The second-wicket partnership yielded 82 runs off 19.5 overs.

East Zone skipper Sanjay Raul missed out, caught by Kiran Powar off the bowling off Sriram after making just 10. Subhomoy Das (20 off 68 balls) failed to keep the momentum going and was trapped lbw by Watekar. In the meanwhile, Gandhi, a former India Test opening bat, went on to complete a well-deserved hundred off 148 balls.

Gandhi's was the last wicket to fall in the day, caught by Vijay Bharadwaj off Watekar in the 74th over. The opening batsman from Bengal made 125 runs off 184 balls, cracking 19 fours and a six. At the close of play, Rajiv Kumar (35*) and Zakaria Zuffri (16*) were at the crease. South Zone's fast bowlers were severely punished on the day, with Madhukkar going for 60 runs off his seven overs. Watekar (3/78) has been the most successful bowler so far.