So, South Zone prevailed over Central Zone in the Duleep opening game. A cats’ whisker separated the two teams in terms of the recorded result: South won on the basis of a 3-run 1st Innings lead! However, the result and the manner in which it was contrived was, in my view, a shocker that ought to send a clear signal to the people that run the game in India — notwithstanding the fact that I used the word “run” in a loose manner in that sentence!
The result was handed to South Zone when Central’s last bat, Umesh Yadav, went for a huge second-ball slog off L. Balaji with Central just 3 runs behind. Murali Kartik, who was at the non-strikers’ end (on 23 off 32 balls) would have reason to be cheesed off with Umesh Yadav who probably redeemed himself by being the best bowler on view from either side in the first innings. Yadav had a 5-fer that included the wickets of Dravid and Laxman.
South Zone went ahead to the next round on the basis of the slender 3-run 1st Innings lead that it secured. Thereby, players like Robin Uthappa, S. Badrinath, Dinesh Kartik, L. Balaji, Abhinav Mukund, and Sreesanth lived to fight another day!
However, what was galling was that the captains of South and Central agreed to settle for a draw after the fall of Central’s 9th wicket — that of Mohammed Kaif — even though there were nine overs to go! Chasing 381 in 77 overs was always going to be tough. But Central made an attempt. However, with the fall of the 9th wicket and with 9 overs left in the days’ play, it was thoroughly disappointing to see South’s captain not press for an outright win!
Surely there is something wrong in the “system” right there! We can blame the rot on the administrators — and we do — but surely, the players have to get into the winning habit too! Even though there are no carry-forward points I can’t imagine a let-us-settle-for-a-draw attitude percolating through the Australian system or the South African domestic system, for example.
These little things do matter. Winning is a habit.
Players like Badrinath get another chance to press their case. Dinesh Kartik made a compelling case for the 2nd ‘keeper slot with two impressive centuries in the match.
The action moves to Mumbai and Rajkot now
- 1st Semi-Final: East Zone v West Zone @ Mumbai – Jan 29-Feb 1, 2009
- 2nd Semi-Final: North Zone v South Zone at Rajkot – Jan 29-Feb 1, 2009
East Zone Team:
Shiv Sunder Das (capt), Manoj Tiwary, Rashmi Parida, Wriddhiman Saha, Haladhar Das (wk), Ashok Dinda, Ranadeb Bose, Dibyendu Chakrabarty, Niranjan Behera, Basanth Mohanty, Anand Katti, Krishna Das, Saurabh Tiwary, Tushar Saha, Jayanta Debnath.
West Zone (in possible batting order):
Wasim Jaffer (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Kedar Jadhav, Bhavik Thakkar, Abhishek Nayar, Parthiv Patel (wk), Ramesh Powar, Rajesh Pawar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Sidharth Trivedi.
Subs: Ajay Shrikhande, Samad Fallah, Azharuddin Bilakhia and Ajitesh Argal.
South Zone (in possible batting order):
Abhinav Mukund, Robin Uthappa, Rahul Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman (captain), S. Badrinath (vice-captain), Arjun Yadav, Dinesh Karthik (wk), R. Ashwin, M. Suresh, L. Balaji, S. Sreeshanth.
Subs: Suarav Bandekar, M. Vinay Kumar, S. Anoop Pai
Interstingly, Wriddhiman Saha is included as a batsman in the East side with Haladhar Das anointed as the ‘keeper! And that warhorse, Debashis Mohanty is not in the East Zone squad even though he ended the season as East’s leading wicket taker. I have not seen the North Zone team list anywhere yet.