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North Zone concedes lead

By Our Special Correspondent

HIGH-FIVES: Ramesh Powar (right), Parthiv Patel and Dheeraj Jadhav celebrate the dismissal of Dinesh Mongia.

LUCKNOW, FEB. 16. Spinners Ramesh Powar and Rajesh Pawar snatched the initiative in the first-half from North Zone to keep West Zone in the fray but at the end of the day there was little to choose from two combatants, who simply refused to learn from mistakes as the Duleep Trophy encounter at the K. D. Singh `Babu' Stadium here entered the decisive phase.

On yet another day dominated by the bowlers, off-spinner Powar and left-arm spinner Pawar scaled four victims each as North, resuming at 114 for two, failed to apply itself and ended up conceding a lead of five runs — losing eight wickets on Wednesday for just 82 runs. The deficit was slender but the advantage conceded was huge as West grabbed the opportunity to come back into the game.

But North did not allow the game to drift further and the bowlers did a reasonably decent job by restricting West in the last session. Thirteen wickets fell on the second day and West ended the day at 146 for five.

Lack of discipline

The lack of discipline in the North ranks was signified by the dismissal of Yuvraj Singh when he was stumped. This was just the opening West had expected after Zaheer had given them a splendid start by inducing a false stroke from Aakash Chopra, who added just one to his overnight score of 44.

Yuvraj looked in command as he settled down to crack a few rousing drives but failed to curb his desire to keep playing the shots. This playing surface did not suit Yuvraj's style and he paid the penalty dearly. The North innings slid further as Powar and Pawar tossed the ball leaving the rest to the batsmen.

West flounders again

West floundered in the second venture too as the batsmen failed to adopt the right approach. Poor shot-selection by the West batsmen gave the North attack a flattering look. Satyajit Parab failed to read the line but Wasim Jaffer, producing the most compact innings of the match thus far, made the blunder of playing too early and only spooned the ball to midwicket. With his pronounced back foot play, Jaffer had looked in command until that fatal stroke.

His timing of the ball was exemplary this afternoon and the drives in front flawlessly executed but then his enthusiasm did not carry him far. His was a vital breakthrough that Gagandeep Singh achieved with change of pace.

Dheeraj Jadhav, who batted with lot of conviction and was gifted with the ideal temperament to survive on this pitch,was trapped plumb by a quicker one from leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who had earlier watched him let off by Gautam Gambhir at short leg.

Niraj Patel played a reckless and quite needless cross-batted shot to present a sitter to Nehra at mid-on. It was just not a shot in keeping with the situation but West managed to see the day through without any further alarms with Kiran Powar and Rajesh Pawar at the crease — their team 151 runs ahead with five wickets in hand. The match, with two more days left, is poised for an exciting finish.

The scores:

West Zone — 1st innings: 201.

North Zone — 1st innings: G. Gambhir b Zaheer 13, V. Sehwag c P. Patel b R. Powar 33, A. Chopra c Parthiv b Zaheer 45, R. Ricky lbw b R. Powar 33, Yuvraj st Patel b R. Powar 21, D. Mongia c Jaffer b R. Powar 2, Manvinder b R. Powar 0, A. Mishra b R. Pawar 18, A. Nehra b R. Pawar 10, V. Bhatia (not out) 8, Gagandeep c Jaffer b R. Pawar 0; Extras (b-1, lb-6, nb-6) 13. Total (all out, in 61.4 overs) 196.

Fall of wickets: 1-17, 2-74, 3-115, 4-151, 5-156, 6-156, 7-163, 8-163, 9-194.

West Zone bowling: Zaheer 19-3-64-2, R. Patel 4-0-42-0, Pawar 11.4-2-30-4, Ramesh Powar 23-8-40-4, S. Trivedi 4-0-13-0.

West Zone — 2nd innings: S. Parab lbw b Mongia 14, W. Jaffer c Chopra b Gagandeep 47, D. Jadhav lbw b Mishra 31, Niraj Patel c Nehra b Bhatia 17, K. Powar (batting) 19, Parthiv c Yuvraj b Bhatia 1, Rajesh Pawar (batting) 15; Extras (nb-2) 2. Total (for five wickets, in 50 overs) 146.

Fall of wickets: 1-22, 2-78, 3-96, 4-120, 5-122.

North Zone bowling: A. Nehra 9-1-25-0, Gagandeep 8-3-17-1, V. Bhatia 9-1-41-2, D. Mongia 4-2-9-1, A. Mishra 14-2-34-1, Sehwag 6-0-20-0.

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