Flashback: When Yusuf Pathan’s heroics sealed a historic win for West Zone in Duleep Trophy

Flashback: When Yusuf Pathan’s heroics sealed a historic win for West Zone in Duleep Trophy

An extraordinary double century in the 2009-10 Duleep Trophy final against the South Zone, assisted the West Zone in scripting the biggest chase in the history of First-Class cricket.

Yusuf Pathan
Yusuf Pathan. (Photo Source: CricTracker)

Renowned for his aggressive antics with the bat, Yusuf Pathan’s limited-overs prowess often overshadowed his record in domestic and First-Class cricket. However, mixing his T20 approach in the longer format, an extraordinary double century in the 2009-10 Duleep Trophy final against the South Zone, assisted the West Zone in scripting the biggest chase in the history of First-Class cricket.

After winning the toss and opting to bat at the crowd-less Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad, a blistering knock from skipper Dinesh Karthik‘s bat – 183 from 226 with 25 fours and a six – took the South Zone to a position of strength. The highlight for the West Zone was Irfan Pathan’s 14th five-wicket haul, although trailing by 400, the West was under clear pressure.

Yusuf had given a glimpse of his form and fearless hitting in the first-innings, smacking 5 sixes and 12 fours in his 76-ball 108, although the lack of support from the other end coupled with a spectacular fifer from Chandrasekar Ganapathy reduced the West Zone for 251. Having gained a massive 149-run lead and with three days left for play, it was indeed South’s game to lose.

Karthik’s ton puts South Zone in command

Even more so after Dinesh Karthik followed up his 183 from the first-innings with a dashing 150 laced with 22 fours. After being reduced to 71/4, a whopping stand of 247 runs for the fifth wicket alongside Chidambaram Gautam, who missed his century by only 12 runs, seemed match-defining as the South Zone piled on to the misery of their opponents, declaring the innings on 386/9 in the face of Dhawal Kulkarni’s five-for.

In an improbable pursuit of 536, the South Zone made a solid start courtesy of Chirag Pathak, who blunted the opposition and showed intent towards the end of day three. They resumed the proceedings on the fourth day at 50 for none, with Pathak and Harshad Khadiwale putting them on the course of the chase. Another century partnership with Wasim Jaffer for Pathak, who notched up his century (130 from 168),  raised hopes in their camp, although the South Zone made inroads and having lost three wickets without any significant addition to the score raised an alarm of sorts.

Bhavik Thaker’s dismissal eventually brought Yusuf at the crease and it hardly felt that he ever paused after his first-innings effort. After a slightly jittery passage of play, Yusuf was joined by brother Irfan Pathan, as the brothers put their team on the path of recovery, dominating the bowlers en route their 84-run stand that came off only 80 deliveries.

Irfan’s dismissal towards the end of the day brought Pinal Shah as Yusuf held the fort from his end and stood unbeaten on 84 at the close of day 4.

Pathan’s heroics seal the deal

Picking from where he left, Yusuf Pathan resumed the proceedings alongside a steadfast Shah with his team still 157 runs away from victory. Pathan brought up his century with a boundary and despite being seven down, the game seemed in the grasp of West Zone. Having dropped Yusuf twice on day four, the fielders continued to make a mess of the chances on day five and tilted the favors by dropping him three times on the last day, to make the tally five.

After dropping one sitter after another and letting go of other chances to break the partnership, Pinal Shah’s resolute 116-ball outing for 17 runs finally came to an end when the West Zone was within a touching distance of creating history. Smelling the victory, an on-song – but cramping up – Pathan joined forces with Ramesh Powar, who showed great composure during his 28-ball 18.

To add more insult, the South also missed a run-out chance of Powar, which was the last chance they had to make any comeback into the game. Pathan smothered two sixes off Prem – who had weathered a severe onslaught from Pathan already – after the run-out chance to bring up his double century in immense style.

With scores on the level, it was a pleasingly befitting end to the game as Pathan dispatched S Aravind over the head of long-on to seal a remarkable, historic, once-thought-impossible chase in a grand style. Yusuf battled for 331 minutes in his unbeaten 190-ball 210 featuring 19 fours and 10 maximums.