New Delhi: The Duleep Trophy final was Central Zone skipper Piyush Chawla's 100th first-class match and the thrilling nine-run win was termed by the UP leg-spinner as one of the "most memorable wins" in his career.
"At the age of 26 (25 years 313 days), I have completed 100 first-class matches and this win is certainly one of the most memorable wins in my first-class career," Chawla said after the match.
He praised K L Rahul for his effort stating that "He (Rahul) was in a league of his own in this match. For us, Robin's innings was also crucial. But you can't compare the three centuries in this match. I believe the turning point in this game was keeping the first-innings lead down to 103," Chawla said.
Chawla bowled a couple of lovely deliveries in both innings to get Rahul and Baba Aparajith out.
According to him, the dismissal of Aparajith was the better one.
"I was more satisfied with Baba (Aparajith)'s wicket as he was set and was nudging the ball into the gaps for ones and twos. He didn't read my delivery," said Chawla.
"We always knew that if we get a few wickets first up, it will be difficult for a new batsman to get set. That's why Pankaj's spell in the morning was very important. He got Dinesh (Karthik) out in both innings," the Central skipper said.
Another spinner Ali Murtaza said that after being hit for a few runs by Ramaswamy Prasanna, his gameplan was to bowl as straight as possible.
"My plan was to bowl straight as the ball was keeping low. It was difficult to bowl to Rahul as he was in such great form but we knew that we could get the others out. We believed that we could win today," said Murtaza.
South skipper R Vinay Kumar said that his team played "poor shots" that brought about their downfall.
"We didn't play good cricket today. I believe my dismissal (at 280 with 21 runs left) was a crucial. The pitch was not bad but on fifth day, you expect it offer some turn and also odd ball will jump, some will keep low," Vinay said.
Aparajith was unduly subdued today when situation demanded him to play positively as Chawla and Jalaj bowled with a lot of control.
Ramaswamy Prasanna (29) showed a bit of intent by taking on Chawla and Ali Murtaza to inch closer towards the target. The duo added 49 runs as Prasanna was trapped leg before by a Jalaj straighter.
Chawla again got his googly right as he enticed Aparajith to come down the track and was promptly stumped. Hanuma Vihari (1) didn't last long offering a low return catch to Jalaj to become the sixth wicket to fall.
R Vinay Kumar (24) struck some lusty blows before Murtaza bowled him at the stroke of lunch as he played a cross-batted heave.
Pragyan Ojha (2) padded a Chawla flipper while Abhimanyu Mithun was cleaned up by Murtaza to make it 289 for nine.
Shreyash Gopal couldn't keep his cool as he jumped out to Murtaza but missed the line of the ball to be clean bowled, sparking off wild celebrations by jubilant Central players.
Brief Scores: Central Zone 276 & 403.
South Zone 379 and 291 in 88.3 overs (KL Rahul 130, Piyush Vhawla 3/83, Ali Murtaza 3/59).