Central Zone were 339 for eight at the close of play on the first day of their four-day Duleep Trophy encounter against North Zone at the Maharani Usharaje Trust Cricket Ground in Indore on Tuesday.

Devendra Bundela was on the verge of a well-deserved hundred (98*) as he took Central Zone to relative safety by the close of play. At one stage, Central were 175 for five and facing a real danger of being shot out for a low score after having elected to bat first.

Earlier, Central had got off to a chocking start, losing Gagan Khoda bowled by Vinay Sharma for a duck in the very first over. Sharma struck again in the following over as the timbers rattled again, this time the victim being Paresh Sutane (9). Yere Goud (2) struggled for 28 balls before being caught by Vikram Rathour off the bowling of off-spinner Sarandeep Singh.

Central were reeling at 38 for three in the 14th over, but the new pair of Jyoti Yadav and Jai Yadav then set about repairing the floundering innings. Jyoti Yadav, who opened the innings, went on to make 80 runs off 131 balls, striking a dozen fours and a six. The two batsmen added 111 valuable runs for the fourth wicket before Jyoti Yadav was caught by Yashpal Singh off Sarandeep Singh in the 40th over with Central on 149.

Jai Yadav was the fifth batsman to be dismissed when, with the total at 175, he was caught by Shafiq Khan off Rahul Sanghvi. Yadav made 68 off 103 balls, relying more on the big strokes that produced 10 boundaries and two sixes.

Then it was all Devendra Bundela defying the North Zone bowling to take Central Zone to safety. He got admirable support from Harvinder Singh (31), and the two batsmen added 86 crucial runs for the seventh wicket. Bundela faced 166 balls and struck 16 fours and a six in his brilliant unbeaten knock.

Sarandeep Singh was the best of the North Zone attack, bowling a marathon spell to finish the day with the figures of 31-3-142-4.