Keen contest on cards with evenly matched teams in final

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Mumbai, Feb 18 (UNI) A keen contest is on the cards as two evenly matched teams, North Zone and West Zone, will clash in the five-day Duleep Trophy final, which begins at the Wankhede stadium here tomorrow.

If at all, North Zone might hold a slight advantage in this no-holds-barred battle as they have been the unbeaten team in the tourney so far having registered two huge outright wins over South Zone and East Zone, while West have beaten the English Lions outright but had to be content with the first innings lead against Central Zone in their group.

Both the rivals have a strong batting line-up with West Zone being bolstered by the presence of India Test opener Wasim Jaffer, who showed his class with a magnificent 151 in the first innings against the English Lions.

West also have batsmen in Ajinkya Rahane, the diminutive Mumbai batsman, who also cracked 171 against the hapless English Lions and Saurashtra's Cheteshwar Pujara and Mumbai's Sahil Kukreja along with Baroda's Yusuf Pathan, who are capable of destroying any attack.

North Zone, powered by opener Aakash Chopra and Mithun Manhas, who have scored double centuries in this tournament already, are also backed by a strong bowling attack with Punjab's V R V Singh, back from Australia after being selected in the Test squad, who looks in good touch with an incisive bowling spell grabbing eight wickets against East Zone.

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