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Rahul Sanghvi spins a surprise

By Vijay Lokapally

NEW DELHI, JAN 27.A spinner luring batsmen to doom! On a placid track, this unusual happening was enacted four times as Delhi left-arm spinner Rahul Sanghvi churned out his craft to put North Zone in a commanding position against Central Zone in its concluding Duleep Trophy league match.

At the end of the penultimate day at the Ferozeshah Kotla here on Saturday, Central was 370 for eight in reply to North's first innings total of 690 for eight declared, with the home team planning to enforce follow-on.

With East Zone having ended South Zone's title- aspirations at Agartala by inflicting a four-wicket defeat, North has assured itself of the title.

Even if North does not manage eight points from this encounter, the five points by virtue of its first innings lead will take its final tally to 23 points.

Thereafter, the battle will only be for the runner-up slot when the last round of matches begin on February 1.

Sanghvi, who worked for his wickets, exploited the brittle temperament of the Central batsmen once skipper Amay Khurasiya succumbed to an irresponsible stroke early in the day.

Resuming at 81 for one, much depended on how far Khurasiya and Jai Prakash Yadav would carry their association but a poor shot from the Central skipper provided North the inspiration to experiment and Sanghvi bowled splendidly to account for the wickets of Yadav, Mohammad Kaif, Raja Ali and Abhay Sharma.

Yadav, Kaif and Yere Goud did offer resistance but the Central batting lacked the character to make North earn its wickets. Sanghvi's bowling may have been a revelation to those who have not followed his chart this season.

A pupil of left-arm great Bishan Singh Bedi, the genial Sanghvi extracted help from the pitch with his disciplined line and length to attract praise from National selectors Chandu Borde and Madan Lal. ``I think he is bowling decent enough to deserve a come-back'' remarked Bedi as he analysed Sanghvi.

To get rid of well-set batsmen by varying the flight was a stupendous achievement on this pitch and Sanghvi deserved the honour of having produced the best spell of the match thus far.

Delhi left-arm Ashish Nehra commanded respect even though he went wicketless.

Having bowled consistently well this season, Sanghvi, with his confidence level high, beat the batsmen in the air and often hurried them into defensive postures, too.

Sanghvi was given the stick by Yadav but he had the last laugh. He held one back and the Madhya Pradesh strokemaker, committed to play the drive, skied the ball to mid-wicket where Surinder Singh Bagal completed a good catch. A good ball had got rid of a good batsman who hit 12 fours and one six off 107 balls.

The same could not be said of the ball which got Khurasiya. Showing needless haste, he hoisted Harbhajan Singh. The ball seemed headed for a six but as it dipped in an arc, Dinesh Mongia, with his eyes feasted on the red cherry and feet planted firmly inches away from the boundary rope, pulled off a stunning catch. He pouched the ball and balanced precariously to avoid stepping on to the rope.

Thereafter, Sanghvi took over.

After Yadav was baffled, Sanghvi enticed a confident and fluent Kaif, the batsmen failing to read the flight well. The lanky Uttar Pradesh youngster lobbed the ball to mid-on and the next man to go was Raja Ali, who jabbed the ball to forward short-leg.

Kaif had promised a lot in his 139-ball knock of 61, which included six fours and two sixes, both off Harbhajan.

Motivated by Sanghvi's brilliance, Harbhajan joined by leaving Devendra Bundela in a trance as the ball kicked off the pitch to hit the stumps in a flash.

Rahul Kanwat perished to Virender Sehwag's quicker one and Abhay Sharma was snapped at silly-point even as Yere Goud, the dour Railways cricketer, put up a brave front in scoring 67.

He returned unconquered after a 160-ball innings in which he struck ten fours. He had Murali Kartik for company, the latter having batted 40 balls.

The teams and officials observed a two-minute silence as a mark of respect to the earthquake victims in Gujarat.

The scores:

North Zone-1st innings : 690 (for eight decl).

Central Zone-1st innings : Jai Prakash Yadav c Surinder b Sanghvi 78, Amit Pagnis c Dahiya b Surinder 8, Amay Khurasiya c Mongia b Harbhajan 51, Mohammad Kaif c Mongia b Sanghvi 61, Raja Ali c Rajeev Nayyar (sub) b Sanghvi 29, Yere Goud (batting) 67, Devendra Bundela b Harbhajan 11, Rahul Kanwat lbw b Sehwag 17, Abhay Sharma lbw b Sanghvi 14, Murali Kartik (batting) 3, Extras (b-6, lb-4, nb-21) 31, Total (for eight wkts.) 370.

Fall of wickets : 1-16, 2-94, 3-197, 4-227, 5- 253, 6-288, 7-319, 8-358.

North Zone bowling : Ashish Nehra 20-1- 84-0; Surinder Singh Bagal 11-3-52-1, Harbhajan Singh 30-2-123-2, Rahul Sanghvi 25-9- 47-4, Reetinder Singh Sodhi 4-1-17-0, Virender Sehwag 11-3-36-1, Yuveraj Singh 2-1-1-0.

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