NEW DELHI, Nov 2 (PTI): 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 today.
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 and co.
From a relatively comfortable 252 for three, 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 (2/45)’s morning spell that started turning the complexion of the game.
Out of 13 sessions of play, South dominated 10 but the three dominated by Central turned the course of the game. KL 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. It turned out to be the best 22-yard strip produced at Feroz Shah Kotla in recent times, by one of the youngest BCCI curator Ankit Datta.
The wicket lasted five days with something for everyone from batsman, pacers and spinners.
Starting the day at 184 for one, centurion KL Rahul (130) and Baba Aparajith (56) played out the first hour before Pankaj Singh struck with old ball.
He bowled one that landed on a crack and kept low getting Rahul plumb in-front. The youngster’s innings had played 152 balls hitting 14 fours and five sixes. Dinesh Karthik (0) bagged a ‘pair’ , falling to Pankaj reducing South to 203 for three.
Brief Scores: Central Zone 276 & 403.
South Zone 379 and 291 in 88.3 overs (KL Rahul 130, Piyush Vhawla 3/83, Ali Murtaza 3/59).