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South Zone 327 (Indrajith 118, Unadkat 4-52) and 154 for 6 (Kunnummal 93, Mulani 2-24, Unadkat 2-26, Sheth 2-29) trail West Zone 270 (Patel 98, Sai Kishore 5-86) and 585 for 4 dec (Jaiswal 265, Sarfaraz 127*, Iyer 71, Sai Kishore 2-157) by 375 runs

West Zone closed in on a memorable come-from-behind victory as they took out the South Zone top and middle-order after setting them an improbable victory target of 529 in the Duleep Trophy final in Coimbatore on Saturday.

Reeling at 154 for 6 at stumps on the fourth and penultimate day, South Zone were staring at a heavy defeat as they trailed by 375 runs.

West Zone put up a mammoth 585 for 4 in their second innings after conceding a 57-run first-innings lead to their opponents.

Prolific run-scorer Sarfaraz Khan recorded a fine, unbeaten century (127 off 178 balls) to continue West’s charge after overnight double-centurion Yashasvi Jaiswal was dismissed for 265 at the SNR College Cricket Ground. He became the joint-fastest Indian to 1000 first-class runs, getting to the mark in only his 13th innings, just like Amol Muzumdar and Rusi Modi.

At the end of third day’s play, West Zone were 376 for 3 and Jaiswal was batting on 209 off 244 balls. Jaiswal began the day from where he had left last evening, adding seven more boundaries to the 23 he had already hit.

Jaiswal eventually fell to offspinner K Gowtham, having faced 330 deliveries during his monumental knock and added 164 runs with Sarfaraz for the fourth wicket.

There was no respite, however, for the South bowlers as Sarfaraz went about his task with consummate ease to swell his team’s overall lead and put them in a commanding position.

In all, Sarfaraz found the fence 11 times and cleared it twice, while also stitching together an unbroken partnership of 103 runs with Het Patel (51 not out) to compound South Zone’s misery.

The declaration from West captain Ajinkya Rahane came after Sarfaraz completed his century on Duleep Trophy debut. Patel, coming off an excellent 98 in the first innings, scored his runs quickly, facing just 61 balls while hitting seven fours and a six.

Batting for five sessions, West left their opponents flattened, and the South Zone team did not quite recover from that. This was evident from their second innings as, with the exception of Rohan Kunnummal (93 off 100 balls), all other batters struggled to pose a threat.
Kunnummal waged a lone battle, but he too fell at the fag end of the day, bowled by left-arm spinner Shams Mulani, who finished the day with figures of 2 for 24 from seven overs.

Even with quality like Hanuma Vihari, Mayank Agarwal, B Indrajith and Manish Pandey in the line-up, the second highest score in the South innings was a mere 14.

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