Duleep Trophy 2022 | West, North Zone proceed to last four on back of first innings leads

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The West and North Zones rounded off the first group of Duleep Trophy fixtures on a positive note by eliminating the North East and East Zones respectively. Even though either game failed to produce a result, the first innings superiority was enough to ensure passage to the semifinals.

The two-year-long wait for a Duleep Trophy encounter was finally ended on Sunday following the conclusion of the two quarter-finals in the four-day tournament that marks the beginning of India's first full domestic season since the pandemic hit. Featuring six zones for the first time, the South and Central Zones were given direct places in the semi-finals of the tournament while the remaining four battled it out to join them.

West Zone led by the returning Ajinkya Rahane from injury took on debutants North East Zone at Chepauk in Chennai. Batting first, they made light work of scoring big runs, with a 206-run opening stand seeing Prithvi Shaw score a commendable 113. However, the misery was only set to compound for other opponents, as both Rahane and Yashasvi Jaiswal registered double centuries to take the team to an imposing 590/2 before declaring.

North East put up a spirited batting performance in response, with Ankur Malik's rapid 81 the pick of the innings. However, they eventually folded for 235 courtesy of Chintan Gaja's four-wicket haul before Atit Seth's century in the second innings meant they had no time to claw back the deficit. Thus, West Zone confirmed their place in the semis with an imposing first-innings lead and will now take on Central Zone in Coimbatore starting September 15.

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The other fixture was a much closer affair albeit it did end up being one-sided as well. Asked to bat first, the East Zone saw contributions from all-around the order as Virat Singh starred with 117, the innings' sole century while Navdeep Saini scalped three wickets. However, the lack of huge innings restricted their score to a respectable 397 but it was never going to be enough against a dominant North Zone batting lineup. Yash Dhull's dominant 193 at the top of the order paved the way for a massive total, as skipper Mandeep Singh along with Dhruv Shorey and Himanshu Rana piled on the misery with half-centuries.

The team ended up getting bowled out on 545 as Shahbaz Ahmed took home the red-ball owing to his five-wicket tally but the lead was more than enough to take North through to the next stage. They will thus take on the South Zone in Salem, in tandem with the other semi-final encounter. 

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