March 28, 2002

East Zone batsmen fight valiantly against North at Delhi

Staff Reporter

East Zone's primary objective in their Duleep Trophy match against North Zone at the Feroze Shah Kotla, Delhi, is, at the end of the third day, abundantly clear. With the prospects of a win annihilated by a featherbed batting track, East will be looking to just surpass North's first-innings total and pick up five points instead of three from the drawn match.

It was, on the whole, a gritty batting display from East Zone on the third day. The openers, Parag Das and Debang Gandhi, added another 54 runs for the first wicket before Das fell to Sarandeep Singh for 63 off 74 balls, with 11 fours.

Gandhi fell to the same bowler eight runs later for 44, and a collapse looked imminent. But 90 runs were then added for the third wicket by Sanjay Raul and Rashmi Ranjan Parida before Rahul Sanghvi picked up a wicket, dismissing Raul for 32 off 104 balls.

Twenty runs later, Sanghvi took out Pravanjan Mullick for 11. Sarandeep then got back into the act by dismissing Parida for 62 (145 balls, six fours, one six) and, at 236 for five, East Zone were again teetering.

But Subhomoy Das and wicket-keeper Zakaria Zuffri then posted a 40-run stand for the sixth wicket that stabilised the situation in part. Zuffri made only 11, but he was at the crease for 53 balls, proving valuable support for Das.

At the close of play on Thursday, Das was unbeaten on 56 off 117 balls, with eight fours in his innings. He was accompanied by Laxmi Rattan Shukla, who had cracked a whirlwind 43 off 36 balls with three fours and three sixes.

East Zone ended the day on 354 for six, just over 200 runs behind North Zone's first-innings total. If Das and Shukla can bat calmly on the last day to compile centuries, East Zone may yet see a result that, when Vikram Rathour was going strong on the first two days, seemed completely out of reach.