North zone takes on East Zone in Duleep Trophy tomorrow

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Rajkot, Feb 10 (UNI) The defending champions North Zone takes on East Zone in a four-day Duleep Trophy match, here tomorrow.

Due to the absence of its key players Gautam Gambhir, off to Australia for one-day international and Pradeep Sangwan and Virat Kohli, representing India in under-19 World Cup, the team might find it tough this time.

Mithun Manhas will lead the team against East Zone, here in a match to be played at the Madhav Rao Scindia Cricket ground, tomorrow.

Aakash Chopra, who sscored 188 in the last year's final North Zone trophy and Shikhar Dhawan will make opening combination.

Vikramjeet Singh Malik, a 24-year-old medium-pacer from Himachal Pradesh did a good job in his debut match against South Zone, who scalped five for 44 in the first innings. Rajat Bhatia also accounted four wickets for 13. Both had shared nine wickets, as North Zone dismissed South for 157 and had made 299 in the first innings and bowled out South Zone for 211 in the second innings.

Meanwhile, Malik had claimed his victims in the opening burst of nine overs, to finish with five for 44. Bhatia, 28, had captured 4 for 13.

North Zone won the match by eight wickets and gained five points.

The North Zone captain Mithun Manhas, Punjab's Uday Kaul, Services' Yashpal Singh and Himachal Pradesh's Paras Dogra will make up the middle order. Rajat Bhatia is easily the most valuable player this Ranji season with 525 runs and 26 wickets. V R V Singh in the team, would strengthen North Zone's bowling department.

''It is a good batting track, but initially it would help the seamers,'' Mithun Manhas said.

He also said that they face no pressure as they have a balanced team of boys who would perform well against the East zone, here.

The East zone captain S S Das also expressed a similar view. The final eleven would be decided before the start of the match. East zone has already five points in their kitty as they had beat South Zone, earlier by 68 runs.

The Teams (from): North Zone : Mithun Manhas (Captain), Akash Chopra, Shikhar Dhawan, Karan Goel, Yashpal Singh, Rajat Bhatia, Udai Kaul, Ashok Thakur, Vikramjeet Singh Malik, Amit Mishra, V R V Singh, Chetnya Nanda, Ravi Indar Singh, Jogindar Sharma, Paras Dogra and Sameer Beigh.

East Zone : S S Das (Captain), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Arindam Das, P Jaychandra, Anustup Majmudar, M Kardhan, P J Das, N Behera, R Bose, S S Paul, D Mohanty, B Mohanty, A Kanwar, T Saha, S S Rao and H Das (wk).

Umpires : C R Mohite and S S Hazare. Match Referee : Kiran Mokshi.

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