Debut opener Rohan S Kunnumal and skipper Hanuma Vihari’s undefeated hundreds propelled South Zone to 324 for 2 on stumps against North Zone in the semi-final of the Duleep Trophy cricket tournament in Salem on Thursday. South chose to bat and got off to a good start with Kunnumal and Agarwal (49, 59 balls, 6X4, 1X6) matching each other beat for beat. The 24-year-old Kunnumal from Kerala was the first to reach the half-century when they added two 100. Agarwal, looking good, was bowled by spinner Nishant Sindhu.
Kunnumal appeared to be at ease in the middle and made some nice drives and Vihari, who joined the Kerala righthander in the middle, played himself in and let the young opener play his shots.
Kunnumal cashed every time the spinners made a mistake in line and length.
The duo were involved in a 167-run partnership that drained the North Zone’s bowlers. Vihari spawned his 50 out of 108 balls.
Kunnumal made some nice shots and reached his ton of 172 deliveries with a massive six on the ground. He was lucky enough to survive a chance when he was dropped off at Nishant Sindhu bowling alley at 77.
He continued to score points while the captain also seemed to pick up the pace of scoring. The huge grandstand between Kunnumal and Vihari was broken by pacer Navdeep Saini when he bowled the first for 143.
His 225-ball innings was made up of 16 fours and 2 sixes.
The barrel continued Kunnumal’s excellent streak, including last season’s Ranji trophy, which spanned three centuries.
Vihari, for his part, did what he thought best, biding his time and waiting for the bad balls to score.
On stumps, he was at 107, while Tamil Nadu batter B Indrajith joined him at 20.
Short scores: South Zone 324 for 2 in 90 overs (Rohan Kunnumal 143, Hanuma Vihari 107 not out, Mayank Agarwal 49) vs North Zone.
Central zone reduces west to 252 for 9
In Coimbatore, the formidable West Zone team was limited to 252 for 9 at punches on the opening day of the other semi-final against Central Zone, with left-arm spinner Kumar Kartikeya Singh racking up a five-wicket-haul.
Coming into the game after racking up a huge total against North East Zone in the quarterfinals, the West’s strong line-up couldn’t quite live up to its reputation.
Central Zone captain Karan Sharma won the toss and chose to field.
Despite losing opening partner Yashasvi Jaiswal to a duck, Prithvi Shaw hit a quick 60 (78 balls, 10 fours) and split a 57-run tie for the third wicket with Rahul Tripathi (64 at bat, 137 balls, 5 fours, 1 six ).
Tripathi was also involved in a half-century partnership with Armaan Jaffer (23) but the central zone kept hitting at regular intervals to hold the West batters down.
Skipper Ajinkya Rahane, who had hit a double ton in the quarterfinals, fell leg-before to Gaurav Yadav for 8.
Jaffer looked good before hammering a pitch from Karan Sharma (1 for 32) straight into the hands of Aniket Choudhary.
All-rounder Shams Mulani (41) and Tanish Kotian (36) made useful contributions, but it turned out not to be enough.
Kartikeya Singh’s scalps include Atit Sheth, Shaw, Kotian, Het Patel and Jaydev Unadkat. His great effort slowed the West batting lineup.
Tripathi and Chintan Gaja (5 batters) were in the fold when the stumps were pulled.
Short scores: West Zone 252 for 9 in 82 overs (Rahul Tripathi 64 batting, Prithvi Shaw 60, Shams Mulani 41, Kumar Kartikeya Singh 5 for 66) vs Central Zone.
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