Seamers put South Zone in control
South Zone have taken a stranglehold of their semi-final against Central Zone at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad, after their seamers helped bowl Central out for 178 on the second day. South didn't enforce the follow-on and were 397 ahead with eight wickets in hand by the end of the day.
After the first day had been dominated by South's batsmen, the first session of the second day saw five wickets fall. Central got South's last two wickets cheaply, fast bowler Umesh Yadav dismissing overnight double-centurion Manish Pandey for 218 to end the innings. But Central were in trouble by lunch, with each of the three Karnataka seamers in South's team - Sreenath Aravind, Vinay Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun - taking a wicket each, to leave them 61 for 3 at the break. Aravind set the tone, bowling a very tight line and getting Central opener Aakash Chopra for four. Vinay Kumar and Mithun picked it up from there, as Central's top order struggled.
The seamers continued to dominate after the break, with Vinay Kumar testing the batsmen with some short balls. He got Naman Ojha to fend one to forward short leg and Abhinav Mukund held on to a sharp catch. Devendra Bundela never looked comfortable. His first runs were an edge off Mithun that fell short of Manish Pandey at second slip and ran away to the third-man fence. He looked uneasy against Vinay Kumar's short stuff. Vinay Kumar tried a slower bouncer and it ended up reaching Bundela at under 80kph, but Bundela still almost ducked under it and hooked it for a single to deep square leg as an afterthought. Rajasthan's Ashok Menaria looked the best of Central's batsman, and raced to a boundary-filled 79 off 63 balls. But the rest of Central's batting didn't support him and they conceded a 265-run first-innings lead.
South decided to bat again and both their openers - Mukund and Robin Uthappa - got half-centuries as South reached 132 for 2 at the close of play, with Mukund still batting on 60.
North Zone have the advantage in their match against West Zone at the Moti Bagh Stadium in Vadodara. West trail by 284 runs with five wickets in hand at the end of the second day, but it could have been worse for them. After North had amassed 460 in the first innings, West slumped to 63 for 4 before a 107-run partnership between Mumbai's Wasim Jaffer and Saurashtra's Ravindra Jadeja gave their score some respectability. Legspinner Amit Mishra dismissed Jaffer four overs before stumps, leaving West staring at a stiff task.
North started the day on 315 for 5 and their lower order added some useful runs to take them to a strong total. Overnight batsman Uday Kaul took his score from 55 to 89 and then seamer Sumit Narwal scored 59 off 53 balls, as West struggled to wipe out the tail. Narwal then did the job with the ball, taking three early wickets to leave West in all sorts of trouble.