West Zone and North Zone secured semi-final berths in the Duleep Trophy by taking the first-innings lead in their matches against North East Zone and East Zone respectively.
While West obtained a massive 367-run lead over North East Zone at the M A Chidambaram Stadium and opted for batting practice on the fourth and final day on Sunday, North rode on a superb ton by debutant Yash Dhull (193) to overhaul East Zone’s total. The Ajinkya Rahane-led West Zone were 268 for five when the match ended. Aith Sheth remained not out on 102 (101 balls, 10 fours, 1 six), and Shams Mulani fell for 97 (115 balls, 12 fours), as the match meandered to a draw. North East bowlers did a lot better in the second innings and had their opponent three down for 49 and 65 for 4 before Mulani and Sheth came together for a 179-run partnership.
Medium-pacer Dippu Sangma (3 for 70) removed Het Patel (7), Rahul Tripathi (24) and Hardik Tamore (24) to keep the West batters in check. In Puducherry, North, resuming on overnight 433 for three, added a further 112 runs before being dismissed for 545. Himanshu Rana made 81 and captain Mandeep Singh hit a patient 63.
North Zone looked set for a huge total but the hard-working left-arm spinner Shahbaz Ahmed came up with a five-wicket haul to restrict Mandeep Singh & Co. Shahbaz Ahmed’s scalps included Mandeep, Himanshu Rana, Nishant Sindhu. He ended the 131-run stand between Mandeep and Himanshu Rana which went a long way in helping East stop North’s charge. Earlier on Saturday, the talented Dhull hammered a superb 193 (243 balls, 28 fours, 2 sixes) to power North Zone’s reply to East’s first innings score of 397.
At Puducherry: East Zone 397 all out in 136.4 overs (Virat Singh 117) and 102 for 3 drew with North Zone 545 all out in 148.5 overs (Yash Dhull 193, Dhruv Shorey 81, Mandeep Singh 63, Himanshu Rana 62, Manan Vohra 44, Shahbaz Ahmed 5 for 86). (North took first- innings lead and qualified) At Chennai: West Zone 590 for 2 in 123 overs (Yashasvi Jaiswal 228, Ajinkya Rahane 207 not out, Prithvi Shaw 113) and 268 for 5 in 64.3 overs (Atit Sheth 102 not out, Shams Mulani 97, Dippu 3 for 70, Bishworjit 2 for 39) drew with North East Zone 235 all out in 81.5 overs (Ankur Malik 81, Ashish Thapa 43, Hokaito Zhimono 32, Jaydev Unadkat 3 for 35, Chintan Gaja 4 for 38). (West took first-innings lead and qualified).