Pragyan Ojha’s six for 48 on the fourth day of the Duleep Trophy semifinal proved destructive. Central Zone was dismissed for 220, going down by an innings and 38 runs at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday.
South Zone progresses to the final, to be played in Kochi from October 17. The promising B. Aparajith — like in the quarterfinal — was adjudged Man-of-the-Match.
South batted just one over in the morning before declaring at 467 for nine, a lead of 258.
With Mohammed Kaif not walking out because of a strained right ankle, Central was further handicapped.
It was a smart piece of captaincy by Abhinav Mukund when he switched Ojha from the press-box end to the pavilion end and the left-arm spinner soon achieved sharp spin and bounce from the middle-and-off stump.
Paceman Sandeep Warrier ran in from round the wicket to create the rough for Ojha.
The Hyderabad spinner varied his trajectory and angle. Perhaps, his best dismissal of the day was when he got Naman Ojha, who followed the drift, to be held at silly point. Apart from a stop-start innings of 67 (128b, 10x4) from opener Vineet Saxena and a counter-attacking 73 (56b, 10x4, 2x6) by skipper Piyush Chawla, the Central batting lacked character.
South has made two changes for the final. Dinesh Karthik comes in for Rohan Prem and Stuart Binny replaces Warrier.
The scores: Central Zone — 1st innings: 209.
South Zone — 1st innings: Abhinav Mukund c & b Wagh 111, P. A. Reddy c Srivastava b Chawla 16, K.L. Rahul b Umesh 11, B. Aparajith c Dagar b Imitiaz 109, M. Pandey c Srivastava b Jalaj Saxena 81, C.M. Gautam c Vineet Saxena b Chawla 69, R. Prem lbw b Chawla 0, Malolan Rangarajan (not out) 30, A. Mithun c Vineet Saxena b Chawla 9, P. Ojha st N. Ojha b Jalaj Saxena 10, Sandeep Warrier (not out) 0; Extras (nb-10, w-4, lb-6, b-1): 21; Total (for nine wkts. decl. in 162 overs): 467.
Fall of wickets: 1-44, 2-73, 3-263, 4-263, 5-410, 6-410, 7-427, 8-448, 9-459.
Central Zone bowling: Umesh Yadav 25-6-65-1, Shrikant Wagh 14-5-36-1, Imitiaz Ahmed 26-5-63-1, Piyush Chawla 44-7-159-4, Jalaj Saxena 45-15-121-2, Shalabh Srivastava 8-1-16-0.
Central Zone — 2nd innings: M. Dagar lbw Malolan 19, Vineet Saxena c Warrier b Ojha 67, Jalaj Saxena lbw b Ojha 0, R. Bist c Gautam b Ojha 20, Shalabh Srivastava c Gautam b Ojha 2, Naman Ojha c A. Reddy b Ojha 0, P. Chawla c A. Srinivas (sub) b Aparajith 73, S. Wagh c S. Bandekar (sub) b Aparajith 0, I. Ahmed (not out) 28, Umesh Yadav c Aparajith b Ojha 0, M. Kaif (absent hurt); Extras (nb-5, lb-2, b-4): 11; Total (in 57.2 overs): 220.
Fall of wickets: 1-34, 2-35, 3-102, 4-110, 5-119, 6-132, 7-133, 8-220, 9-220.
South bowling: Abhimanyu Mithun 4-3-2-0, Sandeep Warrier 11-0-43-0, Pragyan Ojha 20.2-5-48-6, Malolan Rangarajan 12-1-58-1, B. Aparajith 7-0-35-2, Abhinav Mukund 3-0-28-0.