SPORT

Central Zone to take on South Zone

Vijay Lokapally

INDORE: Central Zone’s batting exploits in the last match have raised hopes of a keen contest as South Zone comes prepared for the Duleep Trophy semifinal to be played at the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium here from Tuesday.

A double century by Mohammad Kaif, a century by Parvinder Singh and a near-hundred by Suresh Raina paved the way for the Central seamers to demolish East Zone in the battle for the first innings honours at Amritsar.

But the challenges would be bigger in this contest.

South Zone, a superbly-balanced combination on paper, boasts of two of the most successful new ball bowlers on the domestic circuit this season — A. Mithun and R. Vinay Kumar.

The Karnataka pair has rattled the best batting line-ups in the country and their contrasting skills would test the temperament of the Central batsmen.

Mithun loves to let the ball go while Vinay believes in controlled aggression, relying on movement more than pace.

A strong batting order makes South the favourite team in this four-day match.

Manish Pandey, the most exciting young stroke-player in the country, gets one more opportunity to convince the National selectors that he belongs to the higher league.

Central would not be a pushover. Kaif, Raina and Parvinder demonstrated their calibre effectively at Amritsar and the team would look up to the experienced Sanjay Bangar to show the way in this crucial encounter.

Central would miss left-arm spinner Murali Kartik, surprisingly not picked, and the pressure would be on leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, off-spinner Jalaj Saxena to deliver in the company of seamers R.P. Singh and Praveen Kumar.

The teams (from): South: S. Badrinath (capt.), Abhinav Mukund, S. Anirudha, Robin Uthappa, K.B. Arun Karthik, Manish Pandey, C.M. Gautam (wk), R. Ashwin, C. Ganapathy, R. Vinay Kumar, A. Mithun, Alfred Absolem, Shadab Jakati, R. Aushik Srinivas and K.B. Pawan.

Central: Mohammad Kaif (capt.), Suresh Raina. Sanjay Bangar, Piyush Chawla, Tanmay Srivastav, Faiz Fazal, Naman Ojha, Monish Mishra, Praveen Kumar, Pankaj Singh, Parvinder Singh, Jalaj Saxena, R.P. Singh, Umesh Yadav and Akshay Wakare.

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