Ajit Agarkar picked up two late wickets to help West Zone wrest the advantage away from the host South Zone in the Duleep Trophy league match being played at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, on Tuesday. South Zone are 233/6 at close of play on the first day.
South Zone skipper MSK Prasad won the toss and did not hesitate to bat first on a hot and humid day in Chennai. They got off to a reasonably good start, Sridharan Sriram and MSK Prasad adding 42 runs for the first wicket. Prasad (23) fell to the guiles of leg-spinner and Test-discard Sairaj Bahutule.
The new batsman Vinay Kumar (37) and Sriram took the score to 109 in the 48th over, when Bahutule struck again. Vinay Kumar faced 84 balls, striking three fours and a six before being caught by Ajit Bhoite off Bahutule.
Barrington Rowland (15) failed to build up a big score, caught and bowled by Ramesh Powar. Sriram who has been carrying on with his good form, fell in the eighties, missing out on what could have been a big hundred. Sriram made 82 runs off 222 balls, striking thirteen boundaries. The doughty left-handed opening batsman's wicket was claimed by Hrishikesh Hanitkar, caught by Connor Williams.
Hemang Badani and Sridharan Sharath set out to repair the faultering South Zone innings. Sharath was more enterprising, striking half a dozen boundaries. While Badani struggled to keep the momentum going and could make only 17 runs off 56 balls. Ajit Agarkar trying to prove the selectors wrong for not picking him for the West Indies tour - put together a brilliant spell. First he claimed the prized wicket of Badani, caught by wicketkeeper Nayan Mongia and then cleaned up Chandramouli Prasad (10).
At close of play, Sharath is unbeaten on 41 and Syed Sahabuddin on 2 not out. Ajit Agarkar (18-8-36-2) and Bahutule (20-3-40-2) shared the bowling honours.