Duleep Trophy: Agarwal, Vihari, Verma fail to make starts count | Crickit
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Duleep Trophy: Agarwal, Vihari, Verma fail to make starts count

Jul 12, 2023 10:15 PM IST

West Zone take day 1 honours by picking up 7 South Zone wickets for 182 on day 1 of Duleep trophy final

Three prominent India aspirants in the South Zone batting lineup squandered opportunities on day 1 of the Duleep Trophy final, to mark a disappointing start to their five-day fixture against West Zone. The rain-truncated day, which meant only 65 overs were bowled in Bengaluru on Wednesday, saw South Zone, after being put into bat on a moist pitch, finishing on 182/7.

 South Zone batter Tilak Verma plays a shot during the first day of the Duleep Trophy final(PTI)
South Zone batter Tilak Verma plays a shot during the first day of the Duleep Trophy final(PTI)

The three batters in question Mayank Agarwal (28), captain Hanuma Vihari (63) - both on the comeback trail - and Tilak Varma (40), all got starts, could have pushed on for bigger scores, but poor concentration did them in.

Each of them could have taken some inspiration by watching reels of last year’s Duleep Trophy final. That’s when Yashasvi Jaiswal’s double hundred was instrumental in helping the youngster grab the attention of the selectors.

Agarwal, playing a drive while on the walk, edged to third slip against Atit Seth’s right-arm medium pace. Varma and Vihari would be cursing themselves after looking on course to flip West Zone’s toss advantage by heading for lunch with the score on 100/2.

Varma, fresh off his international call-up in T20 cricket and promoted to bat at 3, with Sai Sudarshan away with the Emerging squad, was standing tall to pull pacers and using feet against spin. Soon after lunch, he fell slashing at a wide one, off left-arm seamer Arzan Nagwaswalla.

Vihari, who chose to remind the selectors through interviews before the final that he wasn't spoken to after being dropped from the national side, knew he had to walk the talk. His drives and flicks were authoritative, measuring up to his 16-Test experience. But he needed to add to his 23 First class hundreds and he failed to do that, missing Shams Mulani’s arm-ball and getting bowled.

Between Varma and Vihari’s wickets, South Zone lost two more wickets to be reduced to 165/6. Soon after tea, Bengaluru, one of the few pockets in the country unaffected by monsoon, was struck by showers. The drainage at Chinnaswamy stadium ensured 5 more overs were bowled. Those were enough for Nagwaswalla (15-3-45-2), who knows how to use the old ball with bursts of short-pitched bowling, to pocket Sai Kishore’s wicket with a well-directed bouncer.

Washington Sundar, another with an eye on Test return, is still at the crease. The wicket has eased somewhat but isn’t lifeless. The low-scoring semi-finals would give South Zone hope that Washington will be able to find top gear and bat with the tail to help them post a competitive first innings total.

West Zone spinners, though, will have other ideas. Mulani (5-1-19-2), Mumbai’s leading wicket-taker of the season, again found wickets to outshine his left-arm spin compatriot from Saurashtra Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, who was steady for his 13-3-29-0.

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