Ton-up Mukund leads South Zone to Duleep Trophy finale
A century from captain Abhinav Mukund coupled with sensational bowling spells from Pragyan Ojha and all-round contribution from Baba Aparajith helped South Zone defeat Central Zone by an innings and 38 runs in the Duleep Trophy 2nd semi-final at Chepauk on Sunday.
Central Zone, who elected to bat after winning the toss, struggled to get going, but opener Mukul Dagar (45) gave his side the much needed start. South Zone’s Abhimanyu Mithun had other plans and he ripped through the top order, finishing with figures of 3/29. Central’s middle-order chipped in with some runs, but the South bowlers picked timely wickets, not allowing the batsmen to settle at the crease. Pragyan Ojha bagged 3 wickets, while Malolan Rangarajan and Baba Aparajith pocketed two wickets each. Central Zone were bowled out for 209 in just 85.4 overs.
In response, South Zone rode on a brilliant century from their skipper Mukund (111), and were boosted by another hundred from young Baba Aparajith (109). Middle-order batsmen Manish Pandey (81) and CM Gautam (69) were also among runs, taking their side to a mighty total. With a lead of 258 runs, South Zone declared on 467/9.
Central’s 2nd innings was a demolition of sorts, caused by the left-arm spin of Ojha who was on a wicket-taking spree, claiming 6 wickets. Aparajith (2/35) and Rangarajan (1/58) were once again in the picture, assisting Ojha in the destruction. The Central Zone innings was wrapped up for a mere 220 in just 57.2 overs.
As a result of this victory, South Zone have progressed to the all-important finale of the Duleep Trophy on 17th at Kochi where they will face North Zone, winners of the 1st semi-final.
Brief Scores: South Zone 467/9 dec (Mukund 111, Aparajith 109) beat Central Zone 209 & 220 (V Saxena 67, Ojha 6-48) by an innings and 38 runs.