Visakhapatnam: Bengal speedster Ashok Dinda's hostile spell of fast bowling helped defending champions East Zone reach the final of the Duleep Trophy for the second successive time after beating South by virtue of 23-run first innings lead.
After East were bowled out for 215 in their second innings, South needed 239 runs in 51 overs (including mandatory overs) in order to win the match but in the end just about managed to avert outright defeat.
They were 85 for 8 at the start of the mandatory overs when umpires decided to call off the match after consulting the two captains. They were in fact tottering at 42 for eight as Dinda had brilliant figures of 7/26 while Basant Mohanty took the other wicket.
Dinda, who got his 13th five-for in first-class cricket terrorized the South Zone top-order in a single spell to shut out any dreams that were harboured by Robin Uthappa and co.
The pitch wasn't an easy one to bat on as left-hander Abhinav Mukund was done in by a delivery that kept low. In his next over, right-hander Ramaswamy Prasanna was castled while the dangerous Robin Uthappa edged one to Nataraj Behera in the slip cordon. Manish Pandey was also castled by Dinda and South at 16 for four were virtually out of the match.
While Amit Verma, Stuart Binny and skipper R Vinay Kumar were also sent back cheaply by Dinda, Mohanty got rid off Abhimanyu Mithun. However with a nine-wicket match haul, he has certainly started his first-class season with a bang.
Credit should also be given to Orissa duo of Biplab Samantray and Basant Mohanty who added 68 runs for the seventh wicket and more importantly helped the lead to swell and consumed crucial time which only lessened South's chances of an outright win.
After his three-wicket haul in South's first innings, Samantray scored a patient 52 in the second essay while Mohanty chipped in with an useful 35 after half century in the 1st innings.
Brief Scores: East Zone 267 & 215 (B Samantray 52, B Mohanty 35, R Vinay Kumar 3/10, S Binny 3/31); South Zone 244 & 85/8 (Ashok Dinda 7/26). East in final.