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April 14, 2003
A century from southpaw Hemang Badani and a four-wicket haul by left-arm spinner Nilesh Kulkarni helped Elite C secure first-innings points in their drawn encounter against Plate B at the Nehru Stadium, Cochin. The five points that they gained from their final league match as a result ensured that Elite C were crowned the new Duleep champions.
After Elite C skipper Shiv Sunder Das won the toss, Badani with 129 (241 balls, 15 fours, two sixes) and Pankaj Dharmani 73 (242 balls, eight fours) helped their side post a massive 426 all out in their first innings. Getting past the score and earning the first-innings points was always going to be a herculean task for Plate B from thereon.
But with skipper Jacob Arunkumar (78 off 149 balls) and Vijay Bhardwaj (105 off 251 balls) playing spirited hands, they had a go at it. The failure of the late middle-order and the tail, though, cost them dearly as they were finally dismissed for 322. Kulkarni with 4/103 and fellow-spinner Kulamani Parida, with 3/100, were the main destroyers for Elite C.
Needing to bat for less than a day to secure the draw and the title, Elite C, with Kiran Powar making 50, managed to weather a last-ditch attempt by the Plate B bowlers, led by veteran Narendra Hirwani, 4/49 from 23 overs, and reach 167/7 in their second dig before play was eventually called off.
Plate B had to be content with just three points for their efforts.
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