Duleep Trophy 2022: North, East play out draw; BCCI’s experiment with Kookaburra ball goes wrong

In a match played with Kookaburra ball, North Zone eased past East Zone’s first innings score of 397 and finished at 545 to enter the Duleep Trophy semifinal on Sunday.

Yash Dhull of North Zone plays a shot during a Duleep Trophy quarterfinals match against East Zone at CAP Siechem Ground in Puducherry on September 10, 2022. 

Yash Dhull of North Zone plays a shot during a Duleep Trophy quarterfinals match against East Zone at CAP Siechem Ground in Puducherry on September 10, 2022.  | Photo Credit: KUMAR SS

In a match played with Kookaburra ball, North Zone eased past East Zone’s first innings score of 397 and finished at 545 to enter the Duleep Trophy semifinal on Sunday.

East Zone’s talented Shahbaz Ahmed, rebounding from a hand injury sustained on day three, impressed with a five-for of heart and skill on an unresponsive pitch.

Yet, despite North Zone easing past East Zone’s first innings 397 and finishing at 545 to enter the Duleep Trophy semifinal on day four at the CAP ground on Sunday, a big question mark remained.

It pertained to the use of the Kookaburra ball in this prestigious competition.

Somewhere the BCCI appears to have got its plans to acclimatise our domestic cricketers with the Kookaburra ball, all wrong.

To make them play with Kookaburra on pitches loaded with runs has little value.

With Kookaburra, it is imperative to strike with the new ball, so the surface needs to have pace, lift, and movement with bounce being the most crucial aspect.

The Kookaburra ball, unlike the Duke or the SG balls, has a diffused seam, and bowling, pace or spin, becomes a hard job as the innings progresses and the seam becomes less prominent unless the pitch offers assistance.

But here the opposite has happened. The pitch was grassy 10 days ago after that it was continually rolled by BCCI’s neutral curator, so much so that the grass became dead and lifeless.

Consequently, the bowlers have toiled on this barren surface.

Precisely why Shahbaz Ahmed deserves some credit. He’s a tall, gangling all-rounder with a future.

He followed his 62 in the East’s first innings - he stroked with the effortless ease of a southpaw - with a fine display of left-arm spin.

He bowled with control and defeated the batters with pace variations. Creditably he snared well-set batsmen.

H.J. Rana (81, 149b, 11x4) was lured to doom in flight and Mandeep Singh (63, 174b, 6x4) nicked one that turned away.

The rest of the match was a formality.

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