Lahli: If it was Robin Uthappa on day one, it was another India probable in Stuart Binny who made a strong statement in front of two national selectors – Saba Karim and Roger Binny,claiming seven wickets (4 for 24 & 3 for 7) on day two of the Duleep Trophy semi-final between South Zone and East Zone at the Chaudhari Bansi Lal Stadium here and bringing his team within spitting distance of a big win. East were bowled out for the meagre 84 in 47.4 overs in the first innings, and after South enforced the follow-on, the Manoj Tiwary-led side slumped further to end the day at 30 for 4, still trailing by 150. 
After finishing strong on day one by restricting South for 236 for 9, East Zone failed to remove the last wicket for the first 75 minutes of play on Thursday with Lakshmi Ratan Shukla dropping two returns catches. South’s last-wicket pair of Abhimanyu Mithun and HS Sharath added 28 runs in 15 overs, taking the total to 264 before Varun Aaron cleaned up Mithun for 23. 

South kept up the good work in the bowling department too, keeping East to 25 for 1 at lunch. East were effectively two down with opener Nataraj Behera getting retired hurt after being hit by a rising delivery from Vinay Kumar. The South captain then went one better and got the first breakthrough, removing Orissa opener Govinda Podder for 6 with Manish Pandey taking a good diving catch at second slip. 

After lunch, Binny took centerstage, starting off by inducing a faint edge off Bengal’s young batsman Sudip Chatterjee for 2. Binny, similar to what Shukla did on day one, pitched the ball up and was accurate and extracted enough movement off the pitch to trouble the batsmen. Karnataka’s pace battery of Mithun, Sharath and Vinay bowled with venom and the probing line meant the batsmen were stifled to the point of frustration. Skipper Manoj, who had hit a brilliant ton in the quarter-final here, played out 18 deliveries for his four runs before he went fishing outside his off-stump, only managing to nick to third slip. 

With the skipper gone, Binny ripped through the middle-order taking the wickets of Shukla (1) and Wriddhiman Saha for naught in the same over. Behera (10) returned but could add only six to his tally as Binny’s fourth wicket of the day left East reeling at 34 for 6. Jharkhand’s Saurabh Tiwary (17) and Tripura’s Rana Dutta (17) tried to weather the storm but Pragyan Ojha had other plans. 

With his bowling action creating a lot of ruckus, Ojha (3 for 9) let the ball do the talking as he hoovered up the tail in no time to bowl East out for 80. Binny was harrowing for the East batsmen in the second innings too. For the second time on the day, the 28-year-old picked up two wickets in two balls removing Podder lbw for 4 and castling night-watchman Dutta (0). One over later the allrounder sent back Chatterjee for 4. Sharath added the scalp of Manoj for 8 to make things even worse for East at the end of play with Saurabh (2*) and Shukla (10*) in the middle.

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