It is inevitable that the final day of a contest — the outcome of which is utterly predictable — should find itself immersed in tedium. The Duleep Trophy quarterfinal creaked to a draw on Sunday with South Zone seizing the first-innings lead required for progressing to the semifinals. South’s B. Aparajith was adjudged ‘man-of-the-match’.

West Zone, despite showing some belated enterprise, was bowled out for 287 in its first innings. South will now meet Central in the last-four clash beginning here on October 10.

Day four kicked off on a lighter note as an elderly gentleman took a leisurely stroll inside the boundary, oblivious to the action. It was sometime before the umpires could convince him to get off the park.

Such levity wasn’t replicated in the way West’s batsmen, the muscular Ankit Bawne (115 n.o., 337b, 446m, 7x4, 1x6) and Rakesh Dhruv (53, 7x4, 1x6), approached the innings.

Neat balance

Resuming on 155 for six, the duo ploughed along, neatly balancing strike-rotation and proactive stroke-making. R. Aushik Srinivas, meanwhile, remained doggedly accurate.

The batsmen didn’t drag him into a duel, and instead, attacked Malolan Rangarajan, who delivered a frail first spell. The 20-year-old Bawne, in keeping with the trend of Duleep Trophy debutants performing well in this game, got to his ton with a dab to third man.

Suddenly, there appeared a sliver of opportunity for West to push things as far as it could. But Dhruv displayed the kind of impetuousness that had excised Yusuf Pathan on Saturday.

With seven minutes for lunch, the left-hander miscued a hoick off Aushik and was caught at mid-on. Dhruv had earlier survived a run-out chance after Rohan Prem threw at the wrong end.

Malolan returned for his second spell and knocked off the tail to claim five wickets. South, then, declared its second innings 10 minutes before commencement of the mandatory overs and play was called off.

South skipper Vinay Kumar, lauding his team’s bowlers, admitted it was a crucial toss to win. The Karnataka seamer, part of the National squad for the forthcoming Australian series, was confident that home-advantage would help a “good Indian side.”

His counterpart, Wasim Jaffer was critical of the slow surface.

“I am not cribbing but you don’t want a situation where everything is dependent on the toss. Both batsmen and bowlers have to be kept interested.”

The scores:

South Zone — 1st innings: 600 for nine decl.

West Zone — 1st innings: Wasim Jaffer c Vinay b Malolan 11, Aditya Waghmode c Vinay b Abhinav 57, Ankit Bawne (not out) 115, Manpreet Juneja b Abhinav 0, Yusuf Pathan c Rohan Prem b Aushik 1, Hiken Shah lbw b Malolan 15, Rohit Motwani lbw b Malolan 0, Rakesh Dhruv c Rohan Prem b Aushik 53, Murtuja Vahora b Malolan 1, Jaydev Unadkat c Akshath Reddy b Malolan 19, Akshay Darekar st. Gautam b Aparajith 3; Extras (b-3, lb-2, nb-1, w-1, pen-5): 12; Total (in 133 overs): 287.

Fall of wickets: 1-32, 2-114, 3-114, 4-115, 5-155, 6-155, 7-248, 8-249, 9-279.

South Zone bowling: Vinay 7-4-10-0, Mithun 12-2-26-0, Aushik 40-19-52-2, Pandey 6-1-15-0, Malolan 39-9-101-5, Aparajith 17-1-53-1, Rohan 7-2-9-0, Abhinav 4-0-8-2, Rahul 1-0-3-0.

South Zone — 2nd innings: K.L. Rahul b Dhruv 9, P. Akshath Reddy (not out) 25, B. Aparajith (not out) 5; Extras (b-5): 5; Total (for one wkt. decl. in 22.5 overs): 44.

Fall of wicket: 1-26.

West Zone bowling: Dhruv 10-4-14-1, Yusuf 3-0-13-0, Darekar 8-5-9-0, Juneja 1-0-3-0, Unadkat 0.5-0-0-0.

Man-of-the-match: B. Aparajith.

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