First it was the damp outfield. And then it was poor light. In the end, just about an hour’s play was possible on the second day of the Duleep Trophy final between South Zone and North Zone at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Friday.

But North, despite losing the toss, made the most of the available ten overs in the evening and removed both the South Zone openers, including captain Abhinav Mukund who had scored a fine century in the semifinal. The two fell within the space of three overs and South finished the day at 33 for two.

The North fast bowlers Mohit Sharma and Siddarth Kaul troubled the South openers with their pace and movement.

And though Lohit Rahul sent Kaul to the boundary twice in the second over, he perished in the first ball of the seventh, attempting to pull one from Mohit over square leg only to offer an easy catch to Rishi Dhawan.

Three overs later, Abhinav was foxed by one from Kaul that pitched outside the offstump, curled in and rattled his middle stump.

Soon after, with light fading and with fast bowler Rishi Dhawan replacing Mohit, the umpires stopped play just 55 minutes after the start.

After overnight rain had taken out the opening day’s play, it looked like the action would begin on time on today, or after about an hour’s delay.

For, there was no rain last night or in the morning.

But the umpires, Suresh Lalchand Shastri and Sanjay Hazare, felt that the outfield was damp at many places and gave the green signal for action to begin only at 3.30 p.m.

KCA protests

But the Kerala Cricket Association, which was hosting its maiden Duleep Trophy final and which has been allotted the first ODI against the visiting West Indies at the same stadium here on November 21, was not happy and has sent a written complaint to the BCCI.

“After a first look at the wicket before the day’s start, the umpires immediately announced a 11.30 a.m. inspection…they could have had it at 10 or 10.30, the outfield looks perfectly okay,” said Jayesh George, the Joint Secretary of KCA, at the stadium.

The umpires appeared very cautious but clearly they were not very keen on lowering the benchmark when it came to players’ safety.

North’s star Gautam Gambhir pulled out of the five-day match with a viral infection but since the team, led by Harbhajan Singh, has Virender Sehwag, a crowd of about 300 turned up eager to see him in action.

The scores: South Zone: 1st innings: Abhinav Mukund b Kaul 7, Lokesh Rahul c Dhawan b Sharma 9, C.M. Gautam (batting) 8, B. Aparajith (batting) 0; Extras (b-5, lb-4): 9; Total (for two wkts, 10 overs): 33.

Fall of wickets: 1-23 (Rahul), 2-33 (Abhinav).

North Zone bowling: Mohit Sharma 5-2-11-1, Siddarth Kaul 5-2-13-1.

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