April 3, 2002

Chopra, Sarandeep come to North's rescue at Indore

Staff Reporter

A patient unbeaten hundred from opener Akash Chopra and his undefeated 70-run seventh wicket partnership with Sarandeep Singh has kept North Zone in the hunt for the vital first-innings lead in their Duleep Trophy tie against Central Zone. When stumps were drawn at the end of the second day's play at the Maharani Usharaje Trust Cricket Ground, Indore, North had reached 288 for six in reply to Central's first innings total of 368.

In the morning, Central Zone's Devendra Bundela completed a well-deserved hundred. The middle-order batsman eventually reached 116 before running out of partners. North's new ball bowler Vineet Sharma, who claimed the last two Central wickets, was the most successful bowler for the visitors, claiming four scalps. Sarandeep Singh also ended up with four wickets but he conceded 142 runs in the bargain.

When North's replied, Chopra and Vikram Rathour (33) added 62 runs for the first wicket before the latter fell. No. 4 Shafiq Khan was another batsman who was involved in a fruitful stand with Chopra at the top of the order. Khan, who made 28, added 51 for the third wicket with Chopra before finding himself out lbw.

At 127 for three, North appeared to have the platform on which to build a healthy total. But the fall of their next two wickets for next to nothing plunged them into deep trouble.

Fortunately for them, former India wicketkeeper Vijay Dahiya, who came in next, proved useful in helping Chopra mount the first stage of the salvage operation. Wielding the long handle to good effect, Dahiya clouted six fours and a six on his way to a rapid 33 off 45 balls before hearing the death rattle. His sixth wicket partnership of 50 runs with Chopra ensured that the North total regained a semblance of respectability.

Next came an even better partnership, in fact the best of the North innings, as a cavalier Sarandeep provided the ideal foil to the steady Chopra. The duo put on 90 runs for the unbroken seventh wicket that also saw Chopra reach his 100 off 209 balls. At the end of the day's play, Chopra was batting on 113 off 242 balls, an innings laced with 18 fours, while Sarandeep was on 48 off 69 balls.