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March 3, 2005
North Zone 500 (Balaji 6-121) and 4 for 0 need another 140 runs to beat South Zone 338 and 305 (Sriram 80, Asnodkar 74, Laxman 59, Mishra 4-46, Harbhajan 4-84)
North Zone were on the threshold of sealing a spot in the Duleep Trophy final and needed 140 more runs to beat South in their final league game at Indore. After receiving a battering at the hands of North's tenth-wicket pair last evening, South were spun out for 305 by the spin duo of Amit Mishra, the legspinner, and Harbhajan Singh.
Having gained a 162-run first-innings lead, North were given a further boost when Ashish Nehra trapped Robin Uthappa lbw in the second ball of the innings. However, Swapnil Asnodkar and Sridharan Sriram counterattacked in style and 150 came up as early as the 33rd over as South made a desperate bid to force an outright win. But the North spinners ensured that the two didn't break away and snapped up both in the space of 30 runs. VVS Laxman laboured to a 136-ball 59 and the lower order came unstuck against Mishra, who was the most effective with 4 for 46, and Harbhajan.
North ended the day on 4 for 0 and if they can get close to the stunning run-rate that they managed in the first innings, they may wrap things up even before lunch and prepare to take on Central Zone in the final at Nagpur, beginning on March 8.
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