Duleep Trophy: Ankur Malik shines for North East Zone on Day 3 | Cricket News – Times of India

CHENNAI: After their batsmen had played their part in declaring their opening essay at 590-2, West Zone’s bowlers came to the fore to bowl out North East Zone for 235 in the first innings on Day 3 of their Duleep Trophy clash at Chepauk on Saturday. Medium-pacer Chintan Gaja (4-38) and left-arm pacer Jaydev Unadkat (3-35) played a major role in West Zone taking a 355-run first innings. West Zone chose not to enforce the follow-on and were 12 for 1 at stumps. For the North East Zone, their biggest positive arrived in the form of Ankur Malik who top-scored with 81.
Arriving at the crease with his side struggling at 6 for 84, Ankur took the aggressive route from the word go. The 18-year-old from Sikkim’s first boundary was a top-edge towards the third-man region off medium-pacer Atit Sheth (2-51). In the company of skipper Hokaito Zhimomi (32, 1×4), Ankur stitched a 67-run partnership for the 7th wicket in just 82 balls. While Ankur was taking the attack to the opposition, Hokaito was happy playing the second fiddle. For someone playing only his fourth first-class game, Ankur showed a lot of maturity in his stroke-making. Ankur was severe on left-arm spinner Shams Mulani (1-65). Shams — the leading wicket-taker in the previous Ranji Trophy season with 45 scalps from 6 games — was hit for seven boundaries. “The important thing for me was to not let the scoreboard pressure get to me. I had decided that if there was a loose delivery, I was going to go for it,” said Ankur at the end of the day’s play.
Ankur felt the pitch wasn’t too difficult to bat on and the top-order should have shown more application. “It isn’t a tough wicket to score runs. Had our top-order stayed longer at the crease, the runs would have come. There wasn’t much turn for the spinners,” Ankur pointed out. Despite losing Hokaito, Ankur continued to soldier on. Ankur’s 38-run 8th wicket stand with Kishan Singha (23) and 40 alongside Rex Rajkumar (23) for the 9th took North East Zone past the 200-run mark. Just when it appeared that Ankur could score his second first-class ton, he was clean-bowled by Gaja. Ankur’s 95-ball knock contained 13 boundaries.
Earlier, the opening session saw North East Zone’s top-order fail to get going and were reduced to 20-4, courtesy Unadkat and Gaja. Hokaito and Ashish Thapa (43, 4×4) offered resistance in the form of a 62-run stand for the 5th wicket before Ankur’s arrival.
Brief scores: West Zone 590-2 decl. & 12-1 (D Sangma 1-6). North East Zone 235 (Ankur Malik 81, Ashish Thapa 43; Chintan Gaja 4-38, Unadkat 3-35).

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