Sport, among the many things it does, satisfies a primal need: the thrill of competition. It was precisely what rejuvenated proceedings on day three of the Duleep Trophy quarterfinal between South Zone and West Zone.
After two days of the batting whirligig, the bowlers found their voice on Saturday.
South declared its innings for 600 for nine a little over an hour into the first session, and then laid siege with its spinners.
At stumps, West found most of its bastions down, struggling at 156 for six.
The day saw another Duleep Trophy debutant ring in the celebrations. Malolan Rangarajan, empowered by his unbeaten fifty in the morning, claimed three victims with his off-spin. Left-arm spinner R. Aushik Srinivas, after aiding Malolan’s pursuit of a half-century, was just as effective a bowling foil.
The hour after lunch was perhaps the day’s most compelling phase.
The 24-year-old Malolan threw down the gauntlet and found success getting West skipper Wasim Jaffer. Just as the veteran was finding his range, he was lured by a delivery that got good hang-time and then drifted away. The edge was pouched by South captain R. Vinay Kumar at first slip.
Then began a two-on-two combat featuring the two spinners versus Aditya Waghmode and Ankit Bawne. As stifling and clever as the bowlers were, the batsmen swore by patience and opportunistic-scoring.
But it’s amazing how freakish dismissals can have a knock-on effect on a team. Minutes before tea, Abhinav Mukund was asked to bowl his leg-breaks. The left-handed Waghmode struck an aerial blow towards mid-off where Vinay, hurling himself to his left, pulled off a stunner.
Manpreet Juneja, in the news lately for his prolific run with India ‘A’, allowed a straight one fizz through his defence. While Abhinav didn’t get the hat-trick post-tea, new batsman Yusuf Pathan caused no harm to the rival. His attempted slog over long-on off Aushik only went as far as point.
Vinay, whose dynamism as captain was felt in the frequent shuffling of bowlers, had just asked the long-on fielder to come in.
Late in the evening, Malolan excised Hiken Shah and Rohit Motwani to further fortify his side’s position.
He later said bowling quickly without compromising on flight and spin had worked.
“We made good use of the rough,” he said.
The scores: South Zone — 1st innings: P. Akshath Reddy lbw b Unadkat 18, Abhinav Mukund b Vahora 4, K.L. Rahul lbw b Yusuf 6, B. Aparajith run out 212, Manish Pandey lbw b Dhruv 213, C.M. Gautam lbw b Darekar 0, Rohan Prem c Dhruv b Vahora 35, Malolan Rangarajan (not out) 58, Vinay Kumar lbw b Dhruv 20, A. Mithun lbw b Dhruv 4, R. Aushik Srinivas (not out) 6, Extras (b-11, lb-3, nb-2, pen-5, w-3) 24; Total (for nine wkts. declared in 171.1 overs) 600.
Fall of wickets: 1-20, 2-22, 3-52, 4-242, 5-333, 6-473, 7-521, 8-556, 9-564.
West Zone bowling: Unadkat 24-2-91-1, Vahora 21.1-6-41-2, Yusuf 25-3-69-1, Dhruv 48-3-183-3, Darekar 48-7-172-1, Bawne 2-0-13-0, Waghmode 3-0-12-0.
West Zone — 1st innings: Wasim Jaffer c Vinay b Malolan 11, Aditya Waghmode c Vinay b Abhinav 57, Ankit Bawne (batting) 62, 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 (batting) 0, Extras (b-2, lb-2, nb-1, pen-5) 10; Total (for six wkts. in 76 overs) 156.
Fall of wickets: 1-32, 2-114, 3-114, 4-115, 5-155, 6-155.
South Zone bowling: Vinay 5-3-6-0, Mithun 9-2-22-0, Aushik 22-8-27-1, Pandey 2-1-3-0, Malolan 22-5-50-3, Aparajith 5-0-22-0, Rohan 7-2-9-0, Abhinav 3-0-5-2, Rahul 1-0-3-0.