Agarwal and Vihari lead South and West in a thrilling pursuit in the Duleep Trophy final.

After experienced Mayank Agarwal and Hanuma Vihari laid the groundwork for their victory,

While rain could not prevent a decisive outcome at the Chinnaswamy, it did ensure that the West-Central game in Alur ended in a tie.

South Zone 195 (Agarwal 76, Jayant 3-38, Arora 3-57) and 219 for 8 (Agarwal 54, Vihari 43, Harshit 3-84) won by two wickets over North Zone 198 (Prabhsimran 49, Kaverappa 5-28) and 211 (Prabhsimran 63, Vyshak 5-76, Kishore 3-28).

What had been an easy ride for most of the journey became a bumpy ride near the conclusion, as South Zone, chasing 215 versus North Zone, dropped from 191 for 4 to 213 for 8 in their run chase. But, eventually, Sai Kishore kept his cool and smashed the opposition skipper, Jayant Yadav, over long-on to lead South to a two-wicket victory and a spot in the Duleep Trophy final. South chased their target at less than a run per ball in Bengaluru, despite two significant rain delays on the fourth and final day.

After experiencing Mayank, Agarwal, and Hanuma Vihari laid the groundwork for their victory.

After the veteran Mayank Agarwal and Hanuma Vihari created the foundations for their triumph, which Ricky Bhui and Tilak Varma expanded upon with an aggressive combination for the fifth wicket, the South batters maintained playing their shots despite wickets dropping quickly, with the finish line approaching.

South needed another 194 to win with all 10 wickets heading into day four, and the free-striking Agarwal controlled his opening stand of 44 with Sai Sudharsan. Vaibhav Arora quickly removed Sudharsan and R Samarth, leaving South 59 for 2. That brought their skipper Vihari to the crease, and with dark clouds overhead and rain in the air, he and Agarwal went into counterattack mode.

They quickly doubled the score, adding 59 off 47 balls while driving and hitting boundaries at will. It forced North into defensive fields, but Jayant was able to get rid of Agarwal for 54, giving North Zone hope. However, Vihari kept going at the other end, and even after he was knocked for 43 by Harshit Rana, South was only 74 runs away with six wickets remaining.

Bhui and Varma combined 50 off 33 deliveries before Bhui’s wicket for 34 opened the floodgates, with Rana and Baltej Singh hitting twice in 3.4 overs. In the end, South barely made it, with reigning champions West Zone waiting for them in a rematch of the previous Duleep Trophy final.

Rinku Singh brightened up Alur’s gloomy last day with a 30-ball 40.

West Zone 220 (Sheth 74, Mavi 4-43) a`nd 297 (Pujara 133, Suryakumar 52, Jain 4-56, Saurabh 4-84) drew with Central Zone 128 (Rinku 48, Nagwaswalla 5-74) and Central Zone 128 for 4 (Rinku 40, Dodiya 1-16).

Defending champions West Zone qualified for the 2023 Duleep Trophy final based on a first-innings advantage after their semi-final against Central Zone ended in a dull draw due to heavy rain in Alur. The West and South Zone title match will occur on July 12 at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.

With the score at 292 for 9, West’s penultimate combination could only add five runs before being eliminated by Saransh Jain in the second over of the morning. Central never threatened to pursue 390. They lost their openers, Himanshu Mantri and Vivek Singh, for low-scoring innings. Dhruv Jurel and Amandeep Khare got them to 50 before Dharmendrasinh Jadeja stumped them for 25.

Rinku Singh chose the aggressive option, hitting three fours and three sixes to push Central past 100 at the break. Dodiya, on the other hand, ended his innings on 40 off 30 balls with the first delivery after the break.

Rain, however, limited the second session to only six overs, prompting both captains to shake hands at about 2.20 pm local time.

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