South Zone v West Zone, Duleep Trophy, Hyderabad, 2nd day February 23, 2005

Wickets tumble as game heads into final lap

Cricinfo staff

South Zone 187 and 141 for 5 lead West Zone 207 (Kumar 4-22, Kumble 4-69) by 121 runs

Anil Kumble led South Zone's fightback but the batsmen faltered again at Hyderabad © Getty Images

Anil Kumble triggered South Zone's fightback and Vinay Kumar mopped up West's tailenders as the Duleep Trophy game at Hyderabad was intruigingly poised at the end of the second day. After conceding a slender 20-run lead, West hit back through Irfan Pathan and reduced South to 141 for 5.

Resuming on 71 for 3, West received a major jolt early in the day with Kumble bowling Sachin Tendulkar for just 4. Lakshmipathy Balaji snapped up two more quick wickets and had West reeling at 75 for 5. Niraj Patel, the Gujarat batsman who topped the Ranji Trophy charts, resisted for a while, making a gritty 43, and stitched together some useful partnerships with the lower order. Ramesh Powar, the star with the ball yesterday, chipped in with 31 but Kumar didn't allow the tail to wag for too long and finished with impressive figures of 4 for 22.

South lost wickets at regular intervals when they batted for the second time with Pathan removing both the openers. Zaheer Khan got through VVS Laxman's defences while Powar dismissed Rahul Dravid for the second time in the game, with Niraj Patel taking the catch on both occasions. Venugopal Rao, a classy batsman from Andhra, prevented a further slump and remained unbeaten when stumps were drawn.

With 25 wickets falling on the first two days the much-awaited encounter, played in a packed stadium, the match was set for an early finish. West still held the advantage they gained on the first day but they will know that facing Kumble on a bowler-friendly pitch in the final innings can be a deadly proposition.