Yuvraj, bowlers make it North Zone's day
Central Zone 146 for 5 trail North Zone 451 (Yuvraj 208, Dhawan 121, Praveen Kumar 4-92, Kartik 4-120) by 305 runs
Yuvraj Singh's second first-class double-century - 208 off 241 deliveries - put North Zone in a commanding position against Central Zone on the second day of the semi-final in Hyderabad. There had been doubts about Yuvraj's fitness after his return from cancer treatment, and whether he could last the rigours of long-form cricket. This performance would have put to rest some of those questions.
Yuvraj's innings helped North Zone score 451, and by the end of the day Central Zone were 146 for 5, trailing by 305 runs.
"I was not trying to prove any point to anyone. My aim was to go and enjoy myself out there in the middle. I wanted to have fun," Yuvraj told Times of India. "Especially, after what I went through, it really felt good that I batted for so long. What makes this double hundred special is that I had spent a good amount of time in the middle which is satisfying."
As he had on the first day, Yuvraj scored quickly on the second. North Zone were 346 for 4 overnight and they added 105 more before they were dismissed. Yuvraj's contribution was 75. Praveen Kumar and left-arm spinner Murali Kartik took eight wickets between them for Central Zone.
Besides Yuvraj, the other North Zone batsmen didn't last against Praveen and Kartik. North Zone lost four wickets for 36 runs and were in danger of being dismissed for less than 400. Ishant Sharma then stayed with Yuvraj for 11.2 overs for a stand of 51 to take the total beyond 450.
Central Zone made a solid start to their reply, with the openers adding 64. Once Tanmay Srivastava was run out, however, the innings lost direction and four more wickets fell for 46 runs. Parvinder Awana took 2 for 29 to reduce Central Zone to 146 for 5 at stumps.
South Zone 134 for 5 trail East Zone 267 (Tiwary 145, Mohanty 58, Mithun 4-68) by 133 runs
In Visakhapatnam, Saurabh Tiwary scored a century to help East Zone fight back after they were reduced to 66 for 6 by South Zone on the first day. Tiwary was dismissed for 145, and after East Zone were all out for 267, their bowlers reduced South Zone to 134 for 5.
Tiwary and Basant Mohanty, who had already added 121 runs for the seventh wicket on the first day, scored 32 more before Mohanty was dismissed by seamer Abhimanyu Mithun. Iresh Saxena and Tiwary added 24 for the eighth wicket and Tiwary was eventually the last man out. East Zone's last four wickets had added 80 runs on the second day.
Biplab Samantray ensured the day would belong to East Zone, as he took three wickets to peg South Zone back. East Zone took their first wicket only in the 20th over, after openers Abhinav Mukund and Robin Uthappa had put on 69 runs. South Zone lost two more wickets for the addition of only two runs, and after a stand of 44 between Manish Pandey and Amit Verma, they lost two more to Samantray.