| Sourav Ganguly after reaching his century in Rajkot on Friday. Picture by H. Joshi
Rajkot: East Zoneís fortunes depended on how Sourav Ganguly batted on the second day of the Duleep Trophy tie against North at the Madhavrao Scindia Cricket Ground on Friday. He did not disappoint, and East gained a slight advantage by close.
Sourav completed his fourth Duleep Trophy century (117) in 143 balls before East put the onus back on the North batsmen.
East, who took a 113-run first innings lead, were all out for 291. North, in their second essay, were 106 for three at stumps.
Sourav, along with vice-captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla, resumed at their overnight score of 77 for four and went about their task of building the innings. The pair added 125 for the fifth wicket. Shukla also batted confidently on way to his 31, which included five fours.
Not just Sourav and Shukla, it was Deep Dasgupta too, who had a good day in office. The former India wicketkeeper scored a classy 57 off just 86 balls, with 11 fours.
The first wicket to fall in the morning was Shukla with the team total at 184. Sourav and Deep carried on the good work thereafter.
Before Shukla was dismissed, Sourav completed his 50 in 73 balls hitting two consecutive boundaries of offie Sarandeep Singh. A pull off Gagandeep Singh, in the seventh over of the day, was brilliant.
Sourav then hit a six off Sarandeep over long on. He, though, had a lucky escape when on 86 a snick off Vikram (VRV) Singh went past Dinesh Mongia at first slip. It was a difficult chance and Mongia failed to latch on to it. He was dismissed when, trying to cut an Amit Mishra delivery, he edged it to íkeeper Pankaj Dharmani.
East finished the first session at 235 for five.
Deepís innings was perhaps one of his best in recent years. The India discard batted solidly during his innings. Deep came in at a crucial juncture and the both he and Sourav despatched the attack to all corners of the ground.
Deep batted for 86 minutes and hit 11 boundaries.
Wickets started to tumble once Deep was adjudged leg before to VRV at the team total of 281.
VRV was the most successful of the North bowlers. He took four wickets conceding 65 runs. Bhandari and Gagandeep shared four wickets, but failed to make an impact on any of the batsmen.
The rough created by the bowlersí spikes could come of great help to the spinners in the last couple of days.
North, in reply, had a brilliant start with the openers putting on 100 runs. Ravneet Ricky and Shikhar Dhawan were on the rampage against the East Zone seamers making 56 and 49, respectively.
Shib Shankar Paul dismissed Dhawan when Deep took a diving catch. Within a space of four balls, left-arm orthodox Nadeem scalped nightwatchman Gagandeep. The Punjab seamer was caught by S. Sarvanan at silly point.
The last and most important to fall was of Ravneet Ricky. Ricky was plumb in front off Paul.
Now the fate of the match depends on how Nadeem, Sarandeep and Mishra take advantage of the wicket that has begun to take some turn.