South recovers after Nehra~~s initial burst

Published: Tuesday, March 1, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Indore:South Zone, rocked by Ashish Nehra's wicket-taking burst early on, recovered to 327 for nine at stumps on the opening day of the four-day Duleep Trophy league match against North Zone at the Usharaje cricket ground in Indore on Tuesday.

South's innings was built mainly around opener Robin Uthappa's 80, who hit 15 fours, his century stand with Sridharan Sriram (25) and the 87-run stand for the fifth wicket between Venkatasai Laxman (55) and veteran Sridharan Sharath (60).

Wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik, named in India's squad for the first Test against Pakistan, remained unbeaten on 49.

For North, left-arm paceman Nehra showed a pleasing return to his wanted form ahead of the Test series against Pakistan with incisive spells and at the end of the day returned with figures of 4 for 110 in 23 overs.

Earlier, Uthappa and Sriram added 113 runs for the second wicket after South suffered an early blow with the run out of Swapnil Asnodkar in the third over after electing to bat.

South's recovery was halted when the latter was bowled by Nehra who has also been named in India's first Test team against Pakistan at Mohali.

The gangling pacer also got rid off Uthappa having him caught by Harbhajan Singh to reduce South to 123 for three in the 30th over.

Harbhajan Singh, back from Australia after undergoing correction in his action, then sent back Arjun Singh cheaply to have South on the hop again at 145 for four before some stubborn rearguard action from Laxman and Sriram stemmed the rot.

Laxman warmed up nicely for the tough battles ahead with an elegant half-century that contained seven fours.

The India star and Sharath, who struck 11 fours in his half ton, added 87 runs for the fifth wicket to pull the team's score past the 230 mark.

Nehra broke the partnership having Laxman caught behind by Manvinder Bisla in the 60th over. Sharath also departed 11 overs later when he was caught and and bowled by leg-spinner Amit Mishra.

But North bowlers' hopes of a quick run through the bottom order were thwarted by Karthik, who remained unbeaten with a responsible knock that included seven fours. Karthik was floored by Virender Sehwag off Nehra just after tea, otherwise the South innings would have folded up much earlier.

At stumps, Karthik and last man Vinay Kumar (2) were the not out batsmen.

Apart from Nehra, the other two wicket takers for North were Harbhajan and Mishra, both of whom picked up two wickets each.

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