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Exciting finish on cards as Central make comeback

Exciting finish on cards as Central make comeback
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After Ali Murtaza and Piyush Chawla rattled the lower middle-order of South getting them all out for 379, Central openers Faiz Fazal (72) and Jalaj Saxena (71) created a window of opportunity with a 128-run opening stand. At stumps, Central were 214 for four taking a lead of 111 runs with six wickets in hand.

With cracks appearing on the 22 yard strip and the odd ball turning, Central will fancy their chances if they get a lead of 225-240 on this track. On a fifth day Kotla track, survival might be difficult and South batsmen will have to go for the jugular.

At stumps, Robin Bist (26 batting) was in the company of Mahesh Rawat (11 batting). But credit should be given to both Fazal and Jalaj for their positive intent after bowlers kept the first innings lead down to 103 runs. While Jalaj’s innings was a plucky one that had some good drives along with ‘lemon cuts’, Fazal pulled pretty well before the same shot brought about his downfall. Fazal’s 72 had 11 boundaries in 139 balls while Jalaj had 14 fours in 119 balls as they kept a steady run-rate.

The 128 runs for the opening stand came in 37.5 overs before Jalaj padded an arm ball from Pragyan Ojha to be adjudged LBW. Fazal was looking to make amends for getting out on 49 in the first innings and he pulled anything short on offer. However, South skipper Ranganath Vinay Kumar kept a single fielder at deep square leg and Fazal was forced into the trap. Vinay dug another one but Fazal mistimed it and Baba Aparajith at deep square leg did exactly what he was positioned for.

Credit should be given to Central Zone bowlers for opening the doors just when KL Rahul (185) and Hanuma Vihari (75) was threatening to take the game away with some crisp shots before skipper Piyush Chawla produced his stock ball in the 81st over. In fact, the last six wickets fell for only 20 runs from a relatively comfortable 359 for four. Murtaza bowles well as he ran through the lower order, to finish with 4/59 while Chawla scalped 2/95.

BRIEFSCORES CZ 276 and 214/4  (Fazal 72, Saxena 71) lead SZ 379 (Rahul 185, Uthappa 80, Vihari 75, Murtaza 4-59) by 111 runs.
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