Spinners hurt Central Zone progress
Central Zone 237 for 7 (Bist 79, Fazal 49, Aparajith 2-26) v South Zone
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Central Zone's batsmen squandered a strong start against South Zone, giving away five wickets to spinners, including three to part-timers, on a batsman-friendly pitch in Delhi. Most of their batsmen threw their wickets away and only Rajasthan's Robin Bist crossed fifty.
The platform was laid by the top order after Central opted to bat. Since the pitch had a tinge of green and some moisture, openers Faiz Fazal and Jalaj Saxena were cautious through the first 45 minutes, making only 25 as they were consistently beaten by the pacers' swing. Vinay Kumar then had Saxena caught behind with his trademark outswing, even though the batsman seemed unhappy with the decision.
No. 3 Bist upped the run rate half-an-hour after he walked in by smashing Pragyan Ojha for an inside-out six and he soon struck three fours within nine deliveries. He has only one first-class century in two years, but his footwork against the spinners and the back-foot strokes against the quicks showed he wasn't lacking in confidence.
Vinay Kumar used his bowlers in short spells through the day, employing as many as seven in the first session during which Central made 75 for 1. The second session changed things with two wickets each at the start and end of the session. In B Aparajith's fourth over, Fazal sliced a short ball to point and Naman Ojha handed a low catch to Vinay Kumar at mid-off.
Ashok Menaria joined his Rajasthan team-mate Bist and rotated the strike regularly to ease the nerves after Central were 94 for 3. His three fours in an over off Abhimanyu Mithun showed he was in good touch as the duo put on 68 to take Central past 150. The breakthrough came through another part-timer when Hanuma Vihari's innocuous delivery down the leg side had Menaria stumped for 37. Wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik showed off his reflexes again in the next over when he took a sharp catch even though replays showed the ball had not touched Mahesh Rawat's bat, and Central were 163 for 5 at tea.
Arindam Ghosh started his innings after tea the way Bist had - with two confident fours. He was also put down at short cover by Robin Uthappa on 11, but his stand with Bist didn't last long as a leading edge from Bist ballooned to Mithun at midwicket. Captain Piyush Chawla, playing his 100th first-class match, put on a solid 52 with Ghosh to take them past 200. And just when Chawla also looked settled, he threw his wicket away by chipping a catch to Robin Uthappa at cover three overs before stumps. That became the last ball of the day as the umpires then found the light wasn't good enough to continue.
Vishal Dikshit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo