New Delhi: Central Zone spinners, led by captain Piyush Chawla, weaved magic on a helpful track to steer the team to the Duleep Trophy title with a thrilling nine-run triumph over South Zone here yesterday.
Central Zone's Ali Murtaza (second from right) celebrates the Duleep Trophy win with teammates yesterday. Pic/PTI
Chasing a victory target of 301, South needed 117 runs on the final day with nine wickets intact. But on a pitch that was offering substantial turn, South lost 7 wickets for 39 runs to hand over the trophy to Chawla & Co.
From a relatively comfortable 252-3, they were all out for 291 in 88.4 overs. Spin troika of Chawla (3-83 in 20 overs), Ali Murtaza (3-59) and Jalaj Saxena (2-44) shared the bulk of the spoils but it was Pankaj Singh's (2-45) morning spell that started turning the complexion of the game.
Rahul's ton in vain
Out of 13 sessions of play, South dominated 10 but the three dominated by Central turned the course of the game. Lokesh Rahul (185 and 130), despite a superb effort, ended on the losing side mainly due to inept shot selection by his teammates.
It was an exciting fifth morning where there was a good contest between bat and ball. Starting the day at 184-1, centurion Rahul and Baba Aparajith (56) played out the first hour before Pankaj Singh struck with old ball.
Central Zone 276 and 403 beat South Zone 379 and 291 in 88.4 overs (Lokesh Rahul 130, Baba Aparajith 56; Ali Murtaza 3-59, Piyush Chawla 3-83, Jalaj Saxena 2-44, Pankaj Singh 2-44) by 9 runs
The number of wickets South Zone lost for just 39 runs