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Sport - Cricket

It's Rathour's day out

By Our Sports Reporter

North Zone's Vikram Rathour pulls Utpal Chatterjee of East Zone during the course of his century knock in their Duleep Trophy encounter in New Delhi on Tuesday.

NEW DELHI, MARCH 26. For one who was not an original choice in the North Zone squad, Vikram Rathour availed the opportunity rather well. Scoring his second century in three matches, the Punjab opener remained unbeaten on 149 as he guided his side to 250 for three against East Zone on the opening day of the Duleep Trophy league match at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground here on Tuesday.

Rathour, who scored 104 against South after coming in as a late replacement for Gautam Gambhir, executed 23 boundaries during his 360-minute effort. Considering the fact that there was some invariable bounce on few ocassions, Rathour's stroke-play was praiseworthy.

Making the most of North's decision to bat, openers Rathour and Akash Chopra (58) put on 140 runs. As a result, North found itself well on way to a respectable first innings total, something that it desperately needs in order to win this match and keep alive hopes of defending the title.

Watched by the Chairman of the selection committee, Mr. Chandu Borde and selectors Ashok Malhotra and Madan Lal, Rathour got a reprieve when he was on 23 as Shubomoy Das dropped a sharp chance at gully off medium pacer Parag Das.

Thereafter, Rathour took charge. East, which relied on its two spinners Saurashish Lahiri and Utpal Chatterjee for most part of the day, was made to toil as Rathour got better as his innings progressed.

Off-spinner Lahiri, who took two wickets, impressed during his 29-over effort. But whenever the off-spinner erred in length, Rathour was quick to punish him.

Even as Chopra adopted a cautious approach, Rathour paced his innings well. Once he reached his 50, in the last over before lunch, Rathour played fine strokes, especially off the back-foot when facing Lahiri.

Rathour, who reached his hundred in 230 minutes, was particularly severe on Utpal Chatterjee in the final session. The left-arm spinner conceded six boundaries and on two occasions, Rathour struck two boundaries on the trot. Chatterjee, who bowled 31 overs, did get some bounce off the surface but made no impression on Rathour.

At the other end, Chopra managed eight boundaries as he took time to settle down. Just when he looked set for a longer stay, his mistimed-pull was taken at midwicket by skipper Sanjay Raul off Lahiri.

Lahiri also got rid of Pankaj Dharmani (21). The lanky spinner, who bowled 23 overs on the trot in his second spell, was the pick of the lot among the East bowlers.

Apart from allowing North to end the day on a happy note, East had another reason for concern as Raul's was forced to leave the field with a swollen right hand. In an attempt to stop a powerful straight drive from Rathour off his own bowling, Raul suffered an injury just after tea.

The scores:

North Zone — 1st innings: Akash Chopra c Sanjay Raul b Lahiri 58, Vikram Rathour (batting) 149, Pankaj Dharmani c Debang Gandhi b Lahiri 29, Mithun Manhas c Shubhomoy Das b Shukla 6, Shafiq Khan (batting) 0, Extras (b-1, lb-2, nb-5) 8, Total (for three wickets) 250.

Fall of wickets: 1-140, 2-208, 3-242.

South Zone: Mark Ingty 10.2-2-31-0; Laxmi Ratan Shukla 11-4-22-1; Utpal Chatterjee 31-10-69-0; Parag Das 3-0-13-0; Saurashish Lahiri 29-3-89-2; Sanjay Raul 7.4-1-23-0.

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