West Zone marked its date with history as it entered a record-extending 34th Duleep Trophy final after surging past Central Zone by virtue of its first-innings lead on a rain-marred final day of the semifinal at the Alur (I) Cricket Ground in Bengaluru on Saturday.
A win in the final next week will take the defending champion West to 19 titles and give it the sole lead for most Duleep Trophy titles, moving it past North Zone.
Earlier in the morning, West’s second innings didn’t last too long as Saransh Jain dismissed Yuvrajsinh Dodiya for his fourth wicket, in the day’s second over.
If Central had any hopes of chasing down West’s mammoth target, they were immediately quashed as it lost both its openers inside nine overs.
Himanshu Mantri was the first to depart after he edged Arzan Nagwaswalla to Sarfaraz Khan at gully. First-change bowler Atit Sheth nabbed Vivek Singh after he had the left-handed batter caught behind, fishing at one that was swinging away.
Dhruv Jurel, who came in at three, looked assured against West pacers. He left the ball judiciously and wasn’t afraid to bring out the pull shot when they attacked him with short balls.
The Central batter’s stroke-making gave West an injury scare when the right-handed batter slashed one onto the shin of Sarfaraz Khan, while he was fielding at silly point, forcing the Mumbai player to hobble out of the ground.
Jurel, though, gave away his wicket after he tried to take on Dharmendrasinh Jadeja by stepping down the crease, helping wicketkeeper Het Patel to an easy stumping.
Rinku Singh, who came in next, gave some life to the innings as he played some expansive shots. The left-handed batter smoked Jadeja for a couple of sixes, depositing one so far outside the ground that the game halted for a few minutes.
Off-spinner Dodiya too was treated for a maximum by Rinku as he raced to 40 of 30 balls before Lunch. But his blitzkrieg ended the first ball after lunch as his attempted big hit off Dodiya failed to clear Nagwaswalla at mid-on.
Upendra Yadav and Amandeep Khare were on course to stabilise the Central innings, when the sky opened up, leading to a prolonged stoppage of play. An early Tea was taken, and soon enough handshakes were exchanged as both teams agreed on the inefficacy of playing on, granting West a passage to the final.
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