Chennai: Defending champions East Zone will seek to do an encore when they meet an upbeat Central Zone in Duleep Trophy final which is a virtual replay of last edition played in Indore.
While Central will like to take revenge after being humiliated by an innings and 20 runs in the last edition, the East Zone, led by Natraj Behra, will like to prove that their triumph last time was no fluke. However, there has been a heavy downpour in the city for the past two days and if things don't change drastically, there is a possibility of a delayed start.
Riding on an unbelievable tenth-wicket partnership over 100 runs between Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rituraj Singh, the Central Zone showed the kind of batting depth they have while surpassing a commendable 451 from North Zone in the semi-finals.
The pitch at the Chepauk is known to get slower with time and one would expect that the team that wins the toss will bat first. For Central, last season’s highest run-scorer, Robin Bist, talented Rajasthan batsman, Ashok Menaria, skipper Mohammed Kaif and glovesman Mahesh Rawat will hold the key.
Similarly, East have a better bowling line-up, with Ashok Dinda, who has troubled almost every domestic team for the past two seasons with his pace and ability to extract movement off the pitch. Dinda, who grabbed 7 for 26, had South Zone batsmen running for cover during the semi-final match at Visakhapatnam.
For Dinda, who has been a fringe member of the national side, a few good performances before the England Test series will give him an advantage over his contemporaries like Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav. The Bengal pacer is likely to get good support from his new ball partner Basant Mohanty and allrounder Biplab Samantray.
Among batsmen, Saurabh Tiwary has been in good form, having scored a century against South Zone. The defending champions will expect Wriddhiman Saha and Anustup Majumdar, who played a stellar role in East's success last time, will come good in the final. Skipper Natraj's half-century was crucial in the final context of the match and he would like to lead from the front with a significant contribution. There will be a bit of concern about the openers though as both Dheeraj Jadhav and Manish Vardhan flopped in both innings in the semi-final.