Duleep Trophy SFs: Pujara’s ton puts West Zone in commanding position

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BD Naraayannkar

Test discard Cheteshwar Pujara smashed a cracking century, helping West Zone to take an hefty 384 lead in the second innings against Central Zone on Day 3 of the Duleep Trophy semifinals at KSCA Ovals Stadium here on Friday.

The Priyank Panchal-led side ended Day 3 on 292/9. Pujara, who was dropped from the West Indies series due to poor batting performance at the World Test Championship, blunted left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar with his studied defence, and added 83 to his overnight score of 50 not out, before he was knocked out.

In his 133 runs knock, Pujara hammered 14 boundaries and a six, before he was unfortunately run out by Saransh Jain off 278 balls. But before this, Pujara celebrated a rare milestone of hammering his 60th first-class hundred, drawing level with Vijay Hazare.

Pujara also was involved in a very crucial partnership with Suryakumar Yadav (52), who put on 95 runs for the third wicket yesterday, despite wickets tumbling from the other end.

In the first innings, West Zone scored 220 runs, and Central Zone in reply managed just 128.

Pujara also played a very handy innings of 28 in the first dig, and built a crucial 45-run partnership with Atit Sheth who scored an all-important 74 runs. His teammates however hardly made any contribution with the bat.

Sarfaraz Khan, who scored a duck in the first innings, was scalped by Saurabh in the first over of the day after edging one to wicketkeeper Upendra Yadav.

Het Patel (27), put together a 47-run stand with Pujara before Saransh polished off West’s lower middle order with his quickish off-spin. He had Patel caught by Amadeep Khare at short leg and trapped Atith Seth plumb in front.

Saurabh removed Dharmendrasinh Jadeja the very next ball after he edged one to Rinku Singh. He sent back Chintan Gaja, putting further pressure on Pujara, who resorted to uncharacteristic shots.

Arzan Nagwaswalla was batting on 1 off 16 balls when the stumps were drawn due to rain.

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