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North gains first innings lead

By Our Special Correspondent

Amit Bhandari (second from right) celebrates with teammates after trapping Vinayak Mane leg-before.

DHARAMSHALA (HP), FEB. 28. West Zone paid the penalty for its overcautious approach and allowed North Zone to take a firm grip on their Duleep Trophy league match at the Dharamshala Cricket Stadium here on Saturday. From 121 for three, West tumbled to 128 for seven and then lost the last three wickets at 172 to concede a lead of 107 runs to North. At stumps, North was 17 for the loss of Akash Chopra's wicket.

Earlier, North resumed at 254 for eight and folded at 279, with Sarandeep Singh scoring 19 runs, including two sixes and a four off one over from leg-spinner and West skipper Sairaj Bahutule.

No doubt, the North bowlers came up with a disciplined effort, but the West batsmen allowed the pressure to build up and then wilted under it. Vinayak Mane (54, 8x4) and to an extent, Rakesh Patel (21, 3x4) played positively but the others, including Hrishikesh Kanitkar and Jacob Martin, were guilty of being too defensive.

In the afternoon, despite the crawl, West did not look in any apparent trouble until medium-pacer Amit Bhandari struck three times in as many overs to turn the tide in North's favour. In the over after part-time spinner Dinesh Mongia uprooted Jacob Martin's middle-stump, Bhandari got into the act. He had Parthiv Patel caught in the slips, trapped Mane leg-before and had Romesh Powar caught behind to run through West's middle-order.

Bahutule, whose dismissal ended the innings, said that the team was not happy with the decisions given against Mane and Powar. Bahutule and Rakesh Patel put on 44 runs for the eighth wicket before Mongia struck twice off successive deliveries to hasten the end.

When North batted a second time, Akash Chopra failed again as he was bowled by Munaf Patel. With two days remaining, West will have to ensure that North does not get away too far in its second innings. With no demons in the pitch, North would look to post a minimum of 200 runs on Sunday to squash West's hopes of an outright victory.

The scores:

North — 1st innings: A. Chopra c Parthiv b Munaf 6, G. Gambhir lbw b Munaf 6, P. Dharmani lbw b Bahutule 73, D. Mongia c Mane b Trivedi 25, M. Manhas c Mane b Powar 21, Sangram Singh b Powar 34, A. Ratra c Jadhav b Powar 15, J. Sharma c Jadhav b Bahutule 33, Sarandeep Singh c Parab b Bahutule 42, Gagandeep Singh c Parab b Powar 1, A. Bhandari (not out) 6, Extras (b-3, lb-2, nb-12) 17. Total 279.

Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-21, 3-77, 4-131, 5-145, 6-168, 7-221, 8-253, 9-255.

West bowling: Munaf 15-3-54-2, Rakesh 15-1-62-0, Trivedi 10-1-32-1, Powar 25-4-62-4, Bahutule 20.2-6-64-3.

West — 1st innings: D. Jadhav c Sarandeep b Joginder 24, S. Parab c Gambhir b Gagandeep 6, H. Kanitkar c Sangram b Sarandeep 21, V. Mane lbw b Bhandari 54, J. Martin b Mongia 18, Parthiv Patel c Chopra b Bhandari 0, R. Powar c Ratra b Bhandari 1, S. Bahutule b Sarandeep 19, Rakesh Patel c Sangram b Mongia 21, Munaf Patel b Mongia 0, S. Trivedi (not out) 0, Extras (lb-1, nb-7) 8. Total 172.

Fall of wickets: 1-17, 2-53, 3-59, 4-121, 5-122, 6-127, 7-128, 8-172, 9-172.

North bowling: Bhandari 18-3-50-3, Gagandeep 13-5-22-1, Joginder 15-3-39-1, Sarandeep 25.2-7-45-2, Manhas 1-0-2-0, Mongia 8-1-13-3.

North — 2nd innings: A. Chopra b Munaf 2, G. Gambhir (batting) 8, P. Dharmani (batting) 6, Extras (lb-1) 1. Total (for one wkt.) 17.

Fall of wickets: 1-4.

West bowling: Munaf 4-1-9-1, Rakesh 4-1-6-0, Powar 1-0-1-0.

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