In the long awaited conclusion to the Duleep Trophy, South Zone emerged victorious, defeating West Zone by 75 runs in a gripping final held at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. The final day witnessed West Zone getting bowled out for 222, failing to chase down the target despite beginning the day at 182/5.
The standout feature of South Zone’s triumph was their formidable bowling unit, which played a pivotal role in their success. Among the bowlers, Vidwath Kaverappa, the 24-year-old right-arm quick from Karnataka, shone the brightest.
Making his first-class debut during the 2021-22 Ranji Trophy, Kaverappa showcased immense talent and determination throughout the Duleep Trophy, finishing the competition with an impressive tally of 15 wickets from four innings. His outstanding performances earned him both the Man-of-the-Match and the Man-of-thetournament.
“I loved the captaincy. If you have a good bowling attack then the captaincy pressure comes down”.
Kaverappa’s ability to exploit the bowler-friendly conditions in Bangalore impressed the national selectors, making him a potential candidate for India ‘A’ selection in the near future. His skill to move the ball both ways made him a formidable force against the opposition batsmen.
Though Kaverappa’s brilliance took the spotlight, the other bowlers in the South Zone team also contributed significantly. The likes of Vasuki Koushik, Vijaykumar Vyshak (both pacers), and R Sai Kishore (left-arm orthodox) made valuable contributions, complementing Kaverappa’s efforts.
On the batting front, the Duleep Trophy proved to be a challenging tournament, with no batsman managing to produce significant scores consistently. South Zone opener Mayank Agarwal displayed some promise, scoring back-to-back fifties in the semi-final against North Zone. However, he couldn’t convert his starts into substantial scores in the final.
Cheteshwar Pujara, who was dropped from the Indian Test side, had a mixed tournament. While he began with a brilliant century in the semi-final against Central Zone, he struggled to build on that performance, managing only 52 runs in the next three innings.
Sarfaraz Khan, who had been in the news due to his Test snub, also failed to make a strong statement with the bat. The Mumbai batsman only managed 54 runs in four innings, with 48 being his highest score in the final. Despite his previous impressive domestic performances, Sarfaraz missed a golden opportunity to reinforce his case for selection with a big innings during the Duleep Trophy.
The selectors also expressed their concern over Suryakumar Yadav’s inconsistent form in formats longer than T20. Though he scored a half-century (52) in the tournament, he struggled in the remaining innings, failing to reach double figures.
South Zone’s triumph in the Duleep Trophy was a testament to the significance of a strong bowling attack in decisive matches. While the batsmen had their moments, the bowlers led from the front, with Vidwath Kaverappa’s outstanding performances earning him well-deserved recognition and the hope of a potential India ‘A’ call-up.
As the domestic cricket season progresses, it remains to be seen how these players respond to their performances in the Duleep Trophy. The selectors will be closely monitoring their form and consistency as they continue their quest for excellence in their cricketing careers.