Cuttack: Pace duo of Ashok Dinda and Basant Mohanty put in workhorse like effort as East Zone look firm favourites to enter the semi-final of the Duleep Trophy after managing a slender first innings lead of 37 runs against Central Zone at the Barabati Stadium, here on Friday.
Bengal`s Dinda (4/125 in 38.1 overs) and Orissa`s Basant (4/81 in 42 overs) bowled 80.1 overs between themselves as they ensured that Central don`t cross East Zone`s first innings score of 427. At stumps, East were 24 for one having stretched their overall lead to 61 runs and nine wickets remaining.
All East batsmen now need to do is to bat out time so that there aren`t any hiccups in clinching the semis berth.
Starting the day at 169 for three, the two overnight batsmen Mohammed Kaif (105, 304 minutes, 241 balls,16x4) and Naman Ojha (53, 166 minutes, 108 balls, 2x4, 2x6) took the score to 181 for three before Ojha was caught by Alok Sahoo off Basant`s bowling. The India discard could only add three runs to his overnight score of 50.
Kaif, who has not been in best of form of late completed his 15th first-class century but was bowled by Dinda. Madhya Pradesh captain Devendra Bundela however manfully carried (80,
314 minutes, 191 balls, 11x4) the job taking his team past the score.
Find of the Ranji season Ashok Menaria (16) didn`t last long as he became Dinda`s third victim being caught by substitute Tarjinder Singh. But Bundela found an able ally in Murali Kartik (43, 65 balls, 7x4). From 237 for six, the duo added 71 runs for the seventh wicket. While Bundela was patient in accumulating runs, Kartik was the aggressive one hitting as many as seven boundaries.
However left-arm spinner Iresh Saxena trapped Kartik leg before with the score reaching 308 for seven. Bundela in company of Rudera Pratap Singh (21) added another 43 runs. Just when it looked that Bundela-RP duo will achieve the imposing target, the UP speedster was dismissed after tea break being castled by Basant.
Rajasthan medium pacer Pankaj Singh (20, 4x4) joined Bundela and hit a few lusty blows during their 39 run partnership for the ninth wicket. It was East skipper Tiwary who caught Pankaj to give Dinda`s his fourth victim.
Frustrated and running out of partners, Bundela finally sneaked one off Basant to give Wriddhiman Saha his third catch of the match.