Tripura seamer Manisankar Murasingh’s five-wicket haul (5/42) helped East Zone gain a slender advantage over Central Zone on Day 1 of the Duleep Trophy 2023 quarterfinal at the Alur (I) Cricket Ground in Bengaluru on Wednesday.
Featuring in his second Duleep Trophy game, Murasingh claimed his 13th First Class five-for as his side skittled Central Zone for 182. However, East Zone’s reply suffered a quick jolt as Avesh Khan trapped captain Abhimanyu Easwaran for a golden duck with a nip-backer in the second over. Avesh returned to pack Shantanu Mishra for six before Sudip Gharami and nightwatchman Shahbaz Nadeem put East Zone on 32 for two, trailing Central Zone by 150 runs at stumps.
Earlier, East Zone was asked to field by Shivam Mavi on his First Class captaincy debut amidst gloomy skies. Central Zone openers Himanshu Mantri and Vivek Singh dropped anchor against a sharp burst from Akash Deep and Murasingh as a steady breeze blew across the turf. The pair had no boundaries to show until the first roll of spin from Nadeem in the 14th over. Entering his second spell, Murasingh then breached Vivek’s defence with a rising delivery from length and disrupted the stumps.
Ishan Porel soon got the better of no. 3 Kunal Chandela, dismissing him leg-before for 13. A conjoined effort by seam and the left-arm spin of Nadeem and Shahbaz Ahmed restricted Central Zone to 75 for two at Lunch; a slow outfield added to the woes.
However, Mantri’s vigil ended when a mix-up with his Madhya Pradesh teammate Shubham Sharma helped Easwaran to land a direct hit from cover-point. Sharma failed to stick around, falling to a low catch by Anustup Majumdar off Ahmed.
While Central Zone stared at a rapid descent, Rinku Singh and vice-captain Upendra Yadav salvaged a 61-run stand for the fifth wicket. Rinku took off with two reverse-sweep fours off Nadeem. However, Murasingh returned to dismiss Yadav, who hung his bat outside the off-stump and offered a regulation catch to gully. Saransh Jain lasted only two balls as Murasingh rushed another delivery onto the pads.
Barely five minutes to Tea, Rinku decided to tee off but mistimed Ahmed’s loopy delivery to the long-on fielder. He walked back in disgust, punching his bat as Central Zone lost three wickets within five deliveries and squandered a chance to bat big on a harmless surface.
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