Some divine rhythm was all that Praveen Kumar needed for Central Zone to stay in command against South Zone on the second day of the Duleep Trophy semifinal. And the right-arm medium-pacer got it right from the very first ball, as he picked up four wickets to destroy the South Zone batting line-up. Openers Abhinav Mukund (13), Robin Uthappa (19), A. Karthik (8) and skipper S. Badrinath (9), all became victims of Praveen.
In his 13-over spell from the Pavilion End, Praveen showed a beautiful blend of in and out-swingers and sent back half the South Zone team. He finished the day with five for 48. "Barring one session, the wicket was helping and I made full use of that," said Praveen.
Earlier, Central Zone, from their overnight score of 300 for 7, added 33 more to put on a total of 333. Piyush Chawla remained unbeaten on 90 but did not get much support to complete his century.
South Zone, who lost their top-order early, had more disappointments to handle, as their last hope, Manish Pandey, got a leg-before decision off Pankaj Singh, leaving the scorecard reading 65 for 5.
Playing true to its nature, the wicket at the Usha Raje Stadium saw copious movement in the first and post tea sessions because of which RP Singh fetched the wickets of C. Gautam (52) and R. Ashwin (58).
Gautam and Ashwin stayed in the middle for 113 minutes to stitch a crucial 108-run partnership for the sixth wicket that paid off for South as they finished the day on 254 for 8.