Reluctance to play an extra bowler hurts the team
North Zone skipper Shikhar Dhawan (101, 179b, 15x4) and his innings-building ability helped his team to 251 for three against West Zone on day one of their Duleep Trophy quarterfinal encounter, at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Saturday.
Rahul Dewan (65, 187b, 7x4) was the other chief contributor. Sunny Singh (46, 9x4) and Nitin Saini (37 batting) put on 76 runs for the third wicket, consolidating a position of strength, before the former was caught behind by Parthiv Patel off seamer Samad Fallah in the day’s last over.
Opting to bat, Dhawan proceeded to disorient the fielding team with unflinching crease-occupation. Dewan was his ally in an opening partnership that lasted a little over four hours and fetched 164 runs.
The scoring-rate was a throwback to a different vintage: Dhawan and Dewan added 99 in 36 overs during the pre-lunch session.
Most delightful to watch was Harmeet Singh, the doughty young left-arm spinner who didn’t seem to fuss over batsmen attacking him. He seemed to quite fancy it, in fact, and relentlessly engaged the right-handed Dewan.
Dhawan, meanwhile, faced no apparent discomfiture against the bowling. He earned his runs mostly with the cut stroke, medium pacer Abhishek Nayar bearing the brunt of it.
With the National selectors, Sandeep Patil, Roger Binny, and Vikram Rathour, present at the venue to watch the game, Dhawan’s timing was just right. He picked up pace after lunch: the left-hander carved five fours off a Harmeet over to sprint from 81 to 101.
Not long after, he charged furiously down the track to off-spinner Kamlesh Makvana only to be stumped by Parthiv. Makvana got his second wicket after Ajinkya Rahane pocketed a smart reflex chance at first slip to send back Dewan. Overall, West’s reluctance to play an extra bowler hurt the team.
Speaking to the media after the day’s play, Dhawan was suitably pleased with his innings. “I played well but was sad that I got out when I was set. We aren’t looking at a definite target. We are taking it step by step.”
In contrast to Dhawan, who maintained that the pitch assisted the bowlers throughout the day, his counterpart Cheteshwar Pujara pointed out to the slowness of the track. “It was very difficult for the fast bowlers and so we had to rely on the spinners. Hopefully we can get them out for 350-400.”
North Zone — 1st Innings: Rahul Dewan c Rahane b Makvana 65, Shikhar Dhawan st. Parthiv b Makwana 101, Sunny Singh c Parthiv b Fallah 46, Nitin Saini (batting) 37, Extras (lb-1, nb-1) 2; Total (for three wkts. in 89.2 overs) 251.
Fall of wickets: 1-164 (Dhawan), 2-175 (Dewan), 3-251 (Sunny).
West Zone bowling: Samad Fallah 17.2-4-39-1, Murtuza Vahora 15-6-30-0, Harmeet 18-2-75-0, Abhishek Nayar 13-3-32-0, Kamlesh Makvana 22-4-60-2, Kaustubh Pawar 3-0-11-0, Kedar Jadhav 1-0-3-0.