Naman Ojha (104) and Robin Bist (104 not out) helped themselves to centuries as Central Zone took a decisive step towards a berth in the final of the Duleep Trophy with an overall lead of 488 by close of play on the penultimate day of their semi-final match against South Zone here on Monday.
Having gained a first innings lead of 110, the Central Zone, overnight 127 for one, piled up 378 for five in their second knock as South bowlers toiled for little rewards.
A 140-run partnership between Ojha and Mohammad Kaif (43) for the second wicket followed by an unfinished 160-run association involving Bist and Bhuvnesh Kumar (59 not out) featured the third day's play that saw South Zone, after an early strike, going through the motions.
South began the day on a promising note, dismissing first innings centurion Kaif who added just two runs to his overnight score of 41. Kaif top-edged a pull off Abhimanyu Mithun to mid-wicket where Amit Verma took a brilliant catch, with the ball coming from over his shoulder.
Mohnish Mishra was lucky to survive a confident appeal for leg-before when Mahesh rapped him on the pads with a delivery that came back in.
Brief Scores: Central Zone 293 and 378/5 (Naman Ojha 104, Robin Bist batting 104; Stuart Binny 2/34) vs South Zone 183