South Zone pacers reduced a strong West Zone batting line-up to 129 for 7 to help their team regain some of the lost ground on the second day of the Duleep Trophy final here on Thursday.
West still remain 84 runs short of South Zone’s first innings total of 213.
Once Prithvi Shaw and Harvik Desai took West to 97 for 1, they were poised for a romp and the conditions too remained a tad sunny.
Shaw was quite a sight during that phase. The 23-year-old blunted the South pacers in his inimitable way, producing a slew of sparkling shots.
Vidwath Kaverappa pitched the ball on his driving arc, a wowing cover drive followed.
Vasuki Koushik marginally overpitched a delivery and Shaw produced a straight drive that is now patented to the Mumbai school of batting carried over by Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar.
Vidwath`s delivery that was slanted to Shaw`s pads so slightly met with a delectable flick, an uncoiling wrist giving it power and direction.
The three shots were enough to revalidate the class this young man possesses.
It was clear that the South bowlers will have to conjure something exceptional to snap the second wicket alliance. Perhaps, the 65-minute rain break that arrived in the second session gave South a chance to take a step back and revisit their strategies.
Their bowlers took to the field with a marked difference in approach post that break.
Vysakh Vijayakumar came from around the wicket and peppered both Shaw and Harvik with short-pitched balls.
West batters looked to have caught unawares and their reply was jittery.
Shaw, a reluctant player of the upper cut by his own admission, was forced to play precisely that shot by Vysakh. But the ball was too close to his body, and there was not enough room for its execution.
The rather half-hearted shot neither had elevation nor the distance and it ended in the hands of Vidwath at third man. He made a delightful 65 off 101 balls with 9 hits to the fence.
Vidwath was a beneficiary of this tactic at the other end as batters tried to score off him. Unlike his partner, Vidwath resorted to bowling fuller lengths.
Suryakumar Yadav seemed to have pre-programmed his mind to play the T20 brand of cricket here. Suryakumar could have got out to Vysakh but Sai Kishore failed to grab an uppish pull of him at mid-wicket.
However, his stay ended very soon. The Mumbaikar could not negate a Vidwath delivery that reared from just short of the good length.
Vidwath soon trapped Sarfaraz Khan plumb in front for zero with a full delivery as the batter played all over it.
Once half of the batting unit was dismissed, it was left to Cheteshwar Pujara to hold the West innings together and get as close as to South`s total.
But the man who has scripted several escape stories failed to enact one this time. R Samarth held on to Pujara`s flick off Vidwath as West`s ship sank further.
(With PTI inputs)