North to clash with Sri Lanka A in final
Day 4 South Zone 266 & 333 for 4d lost to Sri Lanka A 327 & 273 for 7 (Warnapura 111, Silva 65) by three wickets
Malinda Warnapura and Kaushal Silva staged an improbable comeback through a 137-run seventh-wicket stand to help Sri Lanka A beat South Zone by three wickets in their final Duleep Trophy match played at Kolkata. The victory was enough for the visitors to make it to the finals where they will meet North Zone, who qualified from the other group.
Chasing a tempting 273 on the final day Sri Lanka A, at one stage, were brought to their knees by Vijaykumar Yomahesh who ended with six wickets. At 131 for 6, chances of an outright victory looked out of reach but Warnapura had other ideas. Coming in at the fall of the first wicket he saw five partners fall pretty fast, but remained unruffled to pile up an unbeaten 111. Silva complemented his senior well to score 65 and fell when his team was within one shot of the target.
Earlier South skipper VVS Laxman made a bold overnight declaration in pursuit of an outright win that would have snatched them a ticket to the finals. After having conceded a 61-run first innings lead, South needed no less than an outright win. They were frustrated enough on the third day when Sri Lanka A used, as the match referee Sanjay Patil had told a newspaper, "deliberate tactics" to slow the game down.
Laxman's gamble had almost paid off with a superb response from Yomahesh but Warnapura spoiled all their plans. The high point of the match, though, was the sizzling 190-ball 141 from Robin Uthappa on Day Three to set up an exciting final day's play.
Day 4 North Zone 504 & 65 for 1 drew with East Zone 295 (Ganguly 118; Rajesh Sharma 3-73)
Sourav Ganguly failed to add to his overnight score of 118 on final day against North Zone in Guwahati as East Zone collapsed to 295 with their last six falling for 80 runs. In the process, they conceded a first innings lead to North which was enough for the latter to make it to the finals.
East desperately needed to score more than North's first innings total of 504. Starting the day at 215 for 4, it was almost like requiring 290 more for victory in a day's play with six wickets in hand. To ensure a stalemate East Zone would have to bat out the whole day as that would have meant no points for either team.
As expected it proved to be too tough once the recognised batsmen got out. And although technically it was a draw, the result meant nothing less than a loss for East Zone.
For North Zone Ashish Nehra and offspinner Rajesh Sharma ended up with three wickets each. Paceman Joginder Sharma, who had frustrated East Zone with 122, got the crucial wicket of Ganguly.
The North Zone top order saw through the mandatory 27 overs without any hiccups once East Zone were bowled out.
The final will be played at the Eden gardens in Kolkata from November 12 to 16.