West Zone seized complete control of the Duleep Trophy final, reducing South Zone to 154/6 at Stumps on the penultimate day in a mammoth chase of 529. Pacers Jaydev Unadkat and Atit Sheth, and left-arm spinner Shams Mulai, all bagged two wickets each as West Zone practically finished the day with one hand on the trophy.
The domination that began on Day 3 with Yashasi Jaiswal’s unbeaten double-ton led them to a mammoth second-innings total of 585/4 when they decided to declare. Jaiswal stretched his unbroken partnership with Sarfaraz Khan overnight to 164 before South Zone could manage to apply the breaks. Jaiswal was stumped on 265 off jusst 323, having hit 30 boundaries and four sixes in his epic knock.
Sarfaraz finished unbeaten on 127, adding another century stand with Het Patel, who himself got to a fifty post which West Zone skipper Ajinkya Rahane declared. South Zone were set an improbable 529 to get in little over four sessions.
And while opener Rohan Kunnummal did his best to put the bowlers under pressure, he also saw a collapse at the other end that nullified his efforts to a large extent. Sheth’s twin strikes in quick succession had South reeling at 47/3 with the first innings centurion Baba Indrajith and India stars Mayank Agarwal and skipper Hanuma Vihari back in the hut.
Irrespective, Kunnumal kept attacking and forged two brief partnerships – worth 44 with Manish Pandey and another one of 48 with Ricky Bhui, where he thoroughly dominated. He hit 14 boundaries and a six in his 100-ball knock but unfortunately missed out on a ton by just seven – falling to Mulani in the closing minutes of play.
Still 375 away from the target, South need a miracle to save the game while West, more realistically, are just four lower-order wickets away from lifting the title.
Brief scores: South Zone 327 & 154/6 (Rohan Kunnummal 93, Atit Sheth 2-29, Shams Mulani 2-24, Jaydev Unadkat 2-26) need 375 more to win against West Zone 270 & 585/4 decl (yashasvi Jaiswal 265, Sarfraz Khan 127*; K Gowtham 2-157).