Dinesh Karthik ton helps South retain edge
West Zone 50 for 0 (Pathak 41*, Khadiwale 8*) and 251 need another 486 runs to beat South Zone 400 and 386 for 9 decl (Dinesh Karthik 150, Gautam 88, Kulkarni 5-58)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Dinesh Karthik became only the third batsman to score a century in each innings in a Duleep Trophy final - the others are Lalchand Rajput and Yuvraj Singh - on yet another favourable day for South Zone. Having gained a significant first-innings lead, South, thanks to Karthik and CM Gautam, consolidated their dominant position to set West Zone an intimidating 536 for victory.
Not that it was smooth sailing all along. Dhawal Kulkarni found plenty of swing and movement to rattle the South top order, which squandered a solid start delivered by the openers. S Anirudha and KB Pawan fell pray to away going deliveries, failing to curb the temptation to play at them and producing the outside edge. Arun Karthik and Ganesh Satish were clueless against the inswinger, one comprehensively bowled and the other trapped in front. At 71 for 4 - the four wickets had fallen for just 16 - West, despite having conceded a massive first-innings advantage, had reason for optimism but a counter-attack, not unlike his previous knock, from Dinesh Karthik quashed any hopes.
Boundaries were easy to find and with a reliable partner in Gautam at the other end, Dinesh Karthik was quick to swing the game back South's way. His 150, off 162 balls, was laced with 22 boundaries, though he was extremely fortunate. Fresh to the crease, he too, almost, succumbed to Kulkarni's teasing length, pushing at one to get the outside edge while on zero, but earning a lifeline as Ravindra Jadeja, who would be kind to him again later in the innings, spilled a sitter. The reprieve might well prove decisive in the outcome, for Dinesh Karthik and Gautam went on to add 247 for the fifth wicket, taking the lead close to 500. Both fell off consecutive balls, allowing the bowlers to run through the tail but after much damage had already been inflicted.
West had another highlight after Kulkarni's five-for. When South decided to declare on 386 for 9, they may have hoped to nip out a couple of wickets before the close. But opener Chirag Pathak defied the norm, opting to play the aggressor in only nine overs available to smack seven boundaries in his 27-ball 41. The innings has begun on a positive note, but with two days to go, South will back their bowlers to complete what Dinesh Karthik had set up.