South Zone close in on victory

West Zone 180 and 60 for 3 require another 359 runs to beat South Zone 291 and 307 (Badrinath 65, Laxman 50, Rayudu 50, Trivedi 5-57)

Bad light forced an early close to South Zone's march towards victory on the third day of their match against West Zone at Indore. West Zone, in pursuit of 419, limped to 60 for 3 before the umpires called off play.

South Zone resumed the day on 65 for 2, 176 ahead, and extended that lead to 418 thanks to fifties from Subraminan Badrinath, VVS Laxman and Ambati Rayudu. Badrinath and Laxman occupied the crease in a valuable 99-run stand for the fourth wicket, while Rayudu used the long handle to good effect with four sixes next to his name. Siddharth Trivedi added three wickets during the day to finish with an impressive 5 for 57.

Jacob Martin, the veteran from Baroda, was bowled by Anil Kumble in the delivery before stumps were prematurely drawn. Earlier, Lakshmipathy Balaji, the South Zone fast bowler, did not come out to bat or bowl owing to a hip injury.

Central Zone 130 and 148 for 5 (Abbas Ali 52*) require another 298 runs to beat East Zone 245 and 330 (Gavaskar 80, Shukla 76, Chawla 5-62, Kumar 4-77)

Laxmi Ratan Shukla' 76 added to Central Zone's woes early in the day before Ashok Dinda grabbed three wickets in the final session to leave East Zone firmly in the driver's seat at the close of the third day at Gwalior. Barring an unbeaten 52 from Abbas Ali at No.5, no host batsman showed much stomach for a fight, and with 298 runs still to get on the final day, Central Zone faced an uphill task.

Rohan Gavaskar was only able to add a run to his overnight 79, but Shukla combined with Saurashish Lahiri (25) to help take East Zone past 300. For Central Zone, Piyush Chawla picked up five wickets with his legspin, while Praveen Kumar, the medium pacer, finished with four for 77.

Dinda, whose six-wicket hail dismantled Central Zone for just 130 in their first innings, was again in prime form as he accounted for Naman Ojha, Tejinder Pal Singh and Jai Prakash Yadav, the opposition captain.

Central Zone 4th innings Partnerships

1st2AA PagnisSS Shukla
2nd5SS ShuklaNV Ojha
3rd14NV OjhaTP Singh
4th54S Abbas AliTP Singh
5th4S Abbas AliJai P Yadav
6th72S Abbas AliP Kumar
7th2S Abbas AliPP Chawla
8th18M KartikPP Chawla