East Zone took a slender first innings lead over Central on the third day of their Duleep Trophy quarterfinal at Cuttack on Friday, taking a firm step towards a last four clash against South at Hyderabad from Jan. 26.
Mohd Kaif struck a patient 105 to lead Central after they resumed on their overnight 169 for three. However, paceman Ashok Dinda bowled him to reduce the visiting side to 213 for five at the Barabati stadium.
MP batsman Devendra Bundela then led the fight for the first innings lead, holding the lower order together.
He raised 71 runs for the seventh wicket with Murali Kartik and held the lower order together until Basant Mohanty had him caught by wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha to end the innings at that score.
Dinda and Mohanty both finished with four wickets. At stumps, East were 61 runs ahead and looking well-set to qualify.
Scores: East Zone 427 & 24-1; Central Zone 390 (M. Kaif 105, D. Bundela 80, A. Dinda 4-125, B. Mohanty 4-81).