As Central Zone looked in control of their chase at tea time on the final day of the Duleep Trophy final in Chennai, having lost only four wickets for 147, Anustup Majumdar was introduced, not exactly as a wicket-taking option. His 4 for 29 with his legspinners changed the complexion of the game and handed East Zone the trophy.
Majumdar, earlier only classified as a batsman, now has five wickets in first-class cricket, four of which came in that spell. Left-arm spinner Iresh Saxena, who took 5 for 58 to contribute to Central Zone's ensuing collapse, said he had asked for Majumdar's introduction so he could change ends.
"I knew Anustup bowled legspin because I'm also from Kolkata. I told Natraj (the captain) to give him one of my overs, because I wanted to change ends. I wanted to change ends because I wasn't getting wickets, and I thought there was more purchase from the other end. After Anustup got the wicket, we really came together as a team and started enjoying it more," Iresh said.
Central Zone slipped, losing four wickets for 20 runs, eventually falling short of East Zone's first-innings score of 232, and thereby the Duleep Trophy title, by 43 runs. Majumdar took a wicket in his first over, breaking a partnership of exactly 50 by dismissing Mahesh Rawat, who edged to the wicketkeeper. After bowling two overs, he removed Bhuvneshwar Kumar for a duck with a googly, and followed it up with the wicket of Praveen Kumar in his next over. The Duleep Trophy title thus swerved East Zone's way.
"I haven't bowled much in first-class cricket," Majumdar said. "I bowled offspin in one or two first-class matches, although I began as a legspinner and a lower-order batsman in junior cricket. After that things changed a bit. On this wicket we had gone with only one spinner and three seamers, so I tried bowling, and I managed it. Legspinners are generally more inconsistent and I hadn't been practising bowling legspin. I bowled a good ball, got a wicket (that of Mahesh Rawat) and my confidence went up."
Iresh Saxena, meanwhile, dismissed Jalaj Saxena and opener Tanmay Srivastava to contribute to the collapse. Central Zone were bowled out for 189.
Majumdar had been part of the India A squad that toured New Zealand in September, scoring 150 runs in two first-class games, including two half-centuries, to be India's fourth-highest run-getter. With his bowling now an added asset, it can only mean a boost to the Bengal side ahead of the upcoming Ranji Trophy season.