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|East Zone looking for historic win|
Sunday, March 7 2004 20:22 Hrs (IST)
First innings centurion Kiran Powar was batting on 51 with night watchman Sourasish Lahiri on one at the other end at stumps, leaving East needing another 196 to record their first Duleep Trophy victory with seven wickets in hand.
The hosts, bowled out for 400 in the morning, have their chances too and East might be hampered by the fact that their experienced Shiv Sunder Das is nursing a torn calf-muscle.
The Test batsman did not open the batting after being off the field during North's second innings.
But it was poor cricket from the home team as they first failed to consolidate on the solid foundation laid by Yuvraj Singh on Saturday, and then dropped four simplest chances besides a number of fielding lapses to allow East dictate terms.
In a match that has been full of ironies, Yuvraj Singh was the culprit on two occasions, although Rohan Gavaskar, the batsman to benefit from the reprieves, was dismissed before the close of play.
The other chance, floored by Ajay Ratra off Kiran Powar while the batsman was on 21, though seems to hurt them already.
Skipper Dinesh Mongia will also be at a disadvantage as the second new ball is more than 20 overs due and only one specialist spinner, Sarandeep Singh, in the team.
The man who set up the match for East was veteran left-arm spinner Utpal Chatterjee who grabbed four for 63 as he ploughed through the North middle order.
The ageing Chatterjee, still a bachelor, showing immense stamina as he left the younger players in his wake as during the warming-down laps around the ground in the evening, struck in the very first over of the day when he had Mithun Manhas leg-before without adding a run to his overnight score.
He then had Ajay Ratra caught by Arindam Das for two as Mongia's fears of another middle order collapse began to come true.
The captain himself was gone eight overs later when he chose to sweep Chatterjee and was bowled around his legs for 48.
Sarandeep Singh then returned a simple catch to the veteran before Joginder Sharma edged Shib Shankar Paul to wicketkeeper Mahender Singh Dhoni.
Debashish Mohanty sent Gagandeep Singh's off stump cartwheeling and then had Ashish Nehra caught behind to end the North innings.
Arindam Das, opening in place of SS Das, and Dhoni then gave East a terrific start with their flaying of the four-pronged pace attack.
Dhoni, who needed just 47 balls for his searing 60, hooked Ashish Nehra effortlessly over the square-leg boundary. His bat was hanging dangerously at times but the right-hander had one mission when he came in -- to destroy the seamer's confidence.
The frustration of the hosts showed when Gagandeep Singh, fielding off his own bowling, hurled the ball back at Dhoni and was warned for the unsporting behaviour by umpire Jasbir Singh.
Dhoni, however, fell to the same bowler when he was caught by Yuvraj Singh after adding 77 runs for the opening wicket.
Das at the other end was playing his shots with equal felicity. His drives on the rise were exquisite and he did not refrain from pulling the ball from outside the off to mid-wicket.
His innings of 35 from 92 balls with five fours though was cut short when a questionable decision saw him being adjudged leg-before to Sarandeep Singh.
Powar, who had made a blistering 102 in the first innings, and Rohan Gavaskar (49) put pressure on the fielders with their sharp running between the wickets and the shoulders began to sag soon.
Catches were dropped with amazing repetition, and the ground fielding and throwing too deteriorated. The off-spinner reverted to a three-four on side field in an effort to curb the batsmen but it proved futile.
Powar continued from where he left on the third day although his couple of uppish strokes had the East camp's heart in its mouth. Amit Bhandari was unlucky to have the sitters floored off his bowling but he was rewarded when Gavaskar, who kept nicking throughout the day, was finally caught behind.
Yuvraj's second ton puts North back in hunt