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The Hindu
The Hindu
Ashwin Achal

Duleep Trophy 2023: Defending champion West meets a strong South Zone in the final

A little under a year ago, West Zone overcame a first-innings deficit to defeat South Zone in the final of the Duleep Trophy at Coimbatore.

The two teams meet once again in the tournament summit clash, with South Zone keen to settle scores in this rematch.

Not straightforward

It will not be a straightforward task, as the power-packed West batting line-up wears an intimidating look. It will take a great effort from South to subdue the likes of Suryakumar Yadav, Cheteshwar Pujara, Prithvi Shaw, Priyank Panchal and Sarfaraz Khan.

Pujara, back to domestic duties after being dropped from the India Test squad, came good with a typically measured century against Central Zone in the semifinal.

Suryakumar showed glimpses of his destructive abilities with a 58-ball 52 in that outing as well.

The bowling attack is spearheaded by left-arm pacer Arzan Nagwaswalla, who picked up five wickets in the Central Zone first innings.

South entered the final on the back of a tense two-wicket win over North Zone in the semifinal held at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. South captain Hanuma Vihari was pleased that the final is being held at the same venue.

“The conditions here are completely different from what we faced in the final against West at Coimbatore last year. The pitch for the semifinal this year was beautiful. I hope it stays the same for the final ”Hanuma VihariSouth Zone captain

The South new ball pair of V. Vyshak and Vidwath Kaverappa will pose a stiff challenge to the loaded West top-order.

Vyshak and Kaverappa — both of whom recorded five-fors against North — are best suited to capitalise on the seamer-friendly conditions.

Mayank Agarwal, who made 76 and 54 in the previous match, Tilak Varma and Vihari form the core of South’s batting.

South Zone opener Sai Sudharsan and wicketkeeper-batter Pradosh Ranjan Paul will not be available for selection, as they have been picked to compete in the The ACC Emerging Players Asia Cup.

Goa and Royal Challengers Bangalore cricketer Suyash Prabhudessai and Karnataka pacer V. Koushik have been named as their replacements.

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