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February 22, 2005
West Zone 71 for 3 trail South Zone 187 (Powar 7-44) by 116 runs
Ramesh Powar, the offspinner, dismantled the South Zone batting line-up with a seven-wicket haul, his best first-class figures, on the opening day of the star-packed Duleep Trophy game at Hyderabad. West Zone ended the day on 71 for 3, with Dheeraj Jadhav unbeaten on 30, as Anil Kumble gave South an opening with a double strike late in the day.
Powar has had a great time in the league phase of the Ranji Trophy, finishing fifth on the wicket-taking charts, and his four-wicket burst against North Zone in the last game helped his side fight back. After the top three South batsmen were dismissed by the faster bowlers, Powar got his first wicket, that of Rahul Dravid, as early as the 14th over. He struck at regular intervals from then on and bowled a marathon 22.5 overs when he snapped up the rest of the batsmen. Powar had burst on to the scene in the Irani Trophy game of the 2003-04 season and had hinted at how Sachin Tendulkar's advice helped him immensely. It was a similar day today with Tendulkar captaining and Powar striking it big.
Venugopal Rao and Lakshmipathy Balaji lent the innings some respectability with 30s and Kumble chipped in with a solid 28. With Kumble getting two early wickets this evening, the spin bowlers may have a major say in the result of this one. Tomorrow promises to be another exciting day with the prospect of Tendulkar walking out to bat first thing in the morning.
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