North Zone on top despite Jadeja's century
Ravindra Jadeja's valiant unbeaten 170 was not enough to get West Zone past North Zone's first-innings score at the Moti Bagh Stadium in Vadodara, and it is North that are favourites to go through to the final after the third day. West ended up 68 runs short, and North added another 191 to that before stumps, ending the day 259 runs ahead with seven wickets in hand.
West began the day at 176 for 5, and Jadeja, initially, couldn't find a partner who was willing to stick around long enough at the other end. West were soon 261 for 8, still way off North's 460. Jadeja finally found able company in No. 10 Murtuja Vahora, and the two put together 131 for the ninth wicket. Sumit Narwal, who had scored a half-century and taken three wickets on the third day, was the man to dismiss Vahora for 43, with West still 68 behind. No. 11 Samad Fallah was out for a first-ball duck, giving Narwal his fifth wicket and leaving Jadeja stranded. Jadeja's 170 came off 242 balls, and included 21 fours and five sixes.
Any chance West had of pushing for an outright win was blunted by North's openers - Sarul Kanwar and Shikhar Dhawan - who both reached 53. Mithun Manhas was unbeaten on 48 at the end of the day, and with North under no pressure to push for a win, they could use the last day for some batting practice.
A merciless South Zone piled on the misery against Central Zone on a dull third day at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. Central ended the day 697 runs behind with eight wickets remaining. South had already secured the first-innings lead and showed little initiative to go for an outright win, batting on well beyond the point where Central had given up all hope and were just going through the motions, making for a boring day of cricket.
The day's play was possibly best defined by a moment where Devendra Bundela was heard through the stump mike begging his captain Hrishikesh Kanitkar to take him out of the attack. It wasn't surprising considering he was bowling 80 kph lollipops against batsmen who were under no pressure and with a spread-out field. Bundela ended up bowling 18 overs in the day, as Central made no effort to bowl South out and just waited for them to declare. Abhinav Mukund and Amit Verma capitalised, helping themselves to centuries. Mukund's 164 was his second century of the match - he scored 105 in the first innings. South reached 504 for 7 in their second innings before finally declaring, 769 runs ahead.
Central's seamers - Umesh Yadav, Pankaj Singh and RP Singh - bowled only 38 of the 100 overs bowled in South Zone's second innings; a clear indication that the team had lost interest in the match. South captain Subramaniam Badrinath and first-innings double-centurion Manish Pandey didn't even bother going out to bat, sending in the middle-order players and tail instead.
South gave themselves a chance to win by taking two wickets at the end of the day, leaving Central 73 for 2.