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Duleep Trophy 2023-24: Talented pacers Vyshak and Kaverappa hand South Zone their 14th title

Duleep Trophy 2023-24: Talented pacers Vijaykumar Vyshak and Vidwath Kaverappa hand South Zone their 14th title. Kaverappa gets player of the series for 15 wickets from 2 games.

Duleep Trophy 2023: Vidwath Kaverappa and  Vijaykumar Vyshak help South Zone will Duleep Trophy 2023 | Walking Wicket (Images: ©arvind_sreenath/Twitter)
Kaverappa and Vyshak help South Zone will Duleep Trophy 2023 (Images: ©arvind_sreenath/Twitter)

Just when the attention of Indian cricket fans was towards the first of the ongoing two-match Test series between hosts West Indies and India, the early start of the Indian domestic season saw South Zone, with an impressive all-round performance, winning their 14th overall and first Duleep Trophy since 2010-11 thanks to their 75-run victory over West Zone at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.

South Zone displayed gained narrow victory in semi-final

More than the final of this tournament, the real spice was on display during the semi-final between South Zone and North Zone at the same ground where a few scattered showers pushed its fate to the final session of the match.

North Zone, after putting up 198 in their first innings, gained a 3-run lead thanks to their bowling unit. But they failed again in the second innings with the bat to reach 211, shouldering on the 63-run knock by Prabhsimran Singh and a little 38-run cameo by Harshit Rana. The main challenge for South Zone was to score quickly given the poor weather in Bengaluru. They began quite strongly with 141/4 before bad light forced the game to stop.

When the game restarted again, North Zone enforced a new tactic of delaying the game by taking too much time in between the overs and with some pointless field changes. But Tilak Verma’s vital 19-ball 25 runs and Ricky Bhui’s 29-ball 34 run knocks took them to the finals thanks to their narrow two wicket victory.

Bowlers shined for South Zone in the Final

South Zone kept on failing with the bat as they could manage only 213 on the board in the first innings of the final with the only shinning performance from captain Hanuma Vihari who made 63. Some fearsome bowling from Vidhwath Kaverappa with his majestic figures of 7/53, helped them in bundling out defending champions West Zone for just 146.

The same story with the bat for South Zone continued as no one was able to convert their starts into big knocks to finish on 230 in the second innings. Even though WZ captain Priyank Panchal tried his best with his 95-run knock, the pace of Vasuki Koushik and the smart spin bowling of Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore was too good to handle for the West Zone. South Zone, under the leadership of Hanuma Vihari, won their first Duleep Trophy after a wait of 13 years by 75 runs.

Let’s take a look at the main architects of South Zone’s victory

In-form Mayank Agarwal continues his purple patch with vital knocks

After being dropped from India’s Test side in the early part of 2022, Mayank Agarwal went back to the domestic circuit to rectify his mistakes. In the recently finished Ranji Trophy 2022-23 season, Agarwal was the highest run getter of the tournament with 990 runs in nine games at an average of 82.50 and strike rate of 59.96 thanks to his six fifties and three centuries with a best score of 249.

The 32-year-old didn’t drop his form and continued from where he left. In the second semi-final of the Duleep Trophy, Agarwal smashed a good looking 76-run knock with 10 boundaries. With no one apart from him being able to go pass the fifty-run mark, Agarwal showed determination and stability in the middle against a decent North Zone bowling attack. Even in the second innings when South Zone required some quick runs, Agarwal brought his aggressive side of the game to crack a 57-ball 54 run knock with seven boundaries to help his side earn the finals ticket.

In both innings of the final, Agarwal failed to convert his starts into big knocks as he finished the tournament as the third highest run-scorer with 193 runs in four innings at an average of 48.25 and strike rate of 67.25.

Sai Kishore showed his all-round brilliance

Just like Agarwal, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore too has been in decent touch from the Ranji Trophy 2022-23 onwards, where he picked up 29 wickets in six games at an average of 31.65 and strike rate of 55.48 including his two five wicket hauls.

Kishore had economical figures of 1/36 in the first innings of the semi-final but he showed his class in the second innings with 3/28 where he used the right pace and variation of his deliveries. He didn’t have much work to do in the first innings of the final but he ended with 4/57 in 20.2 overs in the second innings. Dharmendrasinh Jadeja attempted to counter attack him before holing out to Washington Sundar in the deep, while a similar fate awaited Chintan Gaja who was caught at mid-wicket for a duck in an aim to slog Kishore.

Sai Kishore, who finished the tournament with eight wickets in two games, could be another upcoming all-rounder for India from Tamil Nadu.

Hanuma Vihari showed his leadership skill along with his classic batting

Hanuma Vihari, who played his last Test match in July last year, captained Andhra Pradesh to the knockouts of the recent Ranji Trophy 2022-23, managing 490 runs in eight games at an average of 35 and strike rate of 46.84 including two half centuries.

Vihari didn’t start well in the Duleep Trophy 2023-24 as he saw his stumps cartwheeling on a personal score of zero. But he raised his bar in the second innings when South Zone required quick runs to erase the fear of bad light and rain in the semi-final; Vihari collected 43 runs with eight boundaries at a strike rate of 102.38.

Even in the first innings of the final when all the batters failed to score, Vihari stood tall against the top-class bowling of West Zone for his 63-run knock in 130 balls with the help of nine fours which helped South Zone to cross the 200-run mark. He was again the top run-getter for his side in the second innings with 42 runs as he ended this tournament with 148 runs in four innings at an average of 37 and strike rate of 55.85.

Apart from his batting, Vihari who is set to play for Madhya Pradesh in the 2023-24 domestic season, subject to a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from Andhra Cricket Association (ACA), displayed his impressive leadership skills of using his bowlers and managing the field placements well.

Duleep Trophy 2023_ Vidwath Kaverappa took 7 wickets in 1st innings against West Zone; South Zone will Duleep Trophy  _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©IDCForum_Twitter)
Kaverappa took 8 wickets in final game against West Zone (Images: ©IDCForum/Twitter)
Vidhwath Kaverappa displayed glimpses of an excellent pace bowler

A tall, lanky and hit the deck upcoming fast bowler from Karnataka, Vidhwath Kaverappa had a stellar domestic season in 2021-22. In the recently finished Ranji Trophy 2022-23, Kaverappa picked up 30 wickets in eight games at an average of 20.43 and strike rate of 47.10 including two five wicket hauls.

In the first innings of the semi-final, Kaverappa blew away the North Zone batting lineup with 5/28 in his 17.3 overs. From short ball bowling to attacking the stumps and the outside edge of the batters, Kaverappa left no stone unturned. When his side needed to bundle out West Zone cheaply during the final’s first innings, Kaverappa again displayed his class returning figures of 7/53 in his 19 overs, including the wickets of Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara and Suryakumar Yadav.

His 7/53 was the second-best bowling figures by a pacer for South Zone in the Duleep Trophy as Kaverappa finished the tournament with 15 wickets in two games at an average of 11.93. With Jaydev Unadkat, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami coming at the fag end of their career, the 24-year-old can make his India dream true early in his career.

Vijaykumar Vyshak: Another pace bowling star in making

Just like Kaverappa, Vijaykumar Vyshak is another future bright aspect in the pace bowling circuit coming from Karnataka as he was the top wicket-taker for his state in the 2022-23 Ranji Trophy season with 31 wickets in eight games at an average of 24.58 and strike rate of 45.74 including one five wicket haul.

Vyshak made his mark straightaway in the second innings of the semi-final as he picked up 5/76. He picked up three wickets in the final including the wicket of Prithvi Shaw in the first innings. Even though he could count himself unlucky for not getting too many wickets, Vyshak made life tough for the batters with his pace and smartness.

Vyshak finished the competition with nine wickets in two games and it won’t be too long that Vyshak would find himself at the top level of Indian cricket.

Up next, the Deodhar Trophy will start from July 24 in Puducherry.


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