| Sourav won an important toss, took two wickets and is unbeaten on 19
Rajkot: Sourav Gangulyís first day on the road to Mission Comeback couldnít have gone better.
The axed Team India captain began well by calling correctly and asking North Zone to bat first on a greenish wicket at the Madhavrao Scindia Cricket Park here. And the day ended with Sourav playing a couple of elegant drives and a pull as the southpaw strove to give East Zone the advantage in the four-day Duleep Trophy encounter.
Souravís decision to field first proved crucial as East skittled out North for just 178 with all the wickets going to seamers, including two to the captain.
East were in a spot of bother at stumps on Day I, having been reduced to 77 for four, but they can hope for better things as Sourav is at the crease on a well-compiled 19. Keeping him company is Laxmi Ratan Shukla.
Openers Shiv Sundar Das (0) and Arindam Das (9) disappointed, both falling to Gagandeep Singh. S. Sarvanan looked good till 30, before misjudging an Amit Bhandari slower one and spooning the ball to Sharandeep Singh at gully. Rohan Gavaskar (15) was the other batsman to be dismissed..
This morning, Sourav gave the new ball to Shib Shankar Paul and Ranadeb Bose, and they used the conditions rather well.
Ranadeb was the more accurate of the duo. Paul tested ' and on occasions surprised ' the North batsmen with a few short deliveries.
Ranadeb scalped four victims and Paul three. Sourav brought himself on and played no insignificant role as he finished the North innings taking the last two wickets. One of them was that of V.R.V. Singh, who top-scored with 46.
Souravís return of two for 38 off 12.4 overs should help his confidence soar over the next three days.
Paul and Ranadeb got their act right from the word go. It was in the fourth over that Ranadeb struck, dismissing Shikhar Dhawan for one. Thereafter, wickets tumbled at regular intervals. At one point of time, North were 49 for four.
Yashpal Singh and Pankaj Dharmani added 38 valuable runs for the fifth wicket, before V.R.V. Singh came up with a brilliant 46 off 35 balls to take North past the 150-mark.
East batsmen found the wicket difficult to handle as well and were in trouble at 27 for two. Sarvanan revived the innings temporarily with a 30 off 63 balls in 115 minutes, before the loss of two more wickets evened the contest somewhat.
Gavaskar, once again, started promisingly but couldnít stay long enough at the crease because of his impatience.
Souravís arrival at the crease made it worthwhile for those who paid their way through the turnstiles. He had a few play-and-misses but looked fit and hungry.
A square cut off V.R.V. Singh was something to cherish at the fag end of the day.
Northís trio of medium-pacers ' V.R.V. Singh, Gagandeep and Bhandari ' tried their hearts out and got ample reward. But they still have some work to do.