Left-arm spinner R Sai Kishore stole the show with a seven-wicket haul as South Zone seized the all-important lead against North Zone on the third day of the Duleep Trophy semifinal in Salem on Saturday. (More Cricket News)
Meanwhile in Coimbatore, Prithvi Shaw's blistering 142 (140 balls, 15 fours, 4 sixes) helped West Zone set Central Zone a massive target of 501 in the other semifinal.
Tamil Nadu spinner Sai Kishore, who has been impressive in the white ball formats, came up with a superb showing, snaring seven wickets including that of the talented Yash Dhull (39, 70 balls, 4 fours, 1 six) to help dismiss North Zone for 207 in 67 overs.
Resuming at 24 for no loss, Dhull and Manan Vohra (27) pushed North Zone's first innings score to 67 before off-spinner K Gowtham (2 for 68) struck the first blow, removing the latter, caught by Rohan Kunnummal.
Dhull, who had slammed a ton in the quarterfinal against East Zone, could not carry on his good form, following Vohra into the pavillion four runs later. He nicked one to keeper Ricky Bhui to give Sai Kishore his first scalp.
North slipped to 116 for 4 as captain Mandeep Singh (14) and Dhruv Shorey (28) were dismissed in quick succession.
Himanshu Rana (17) and Nishant Sindhu (40, 64 balls, 4 fours, 2 sixes) put on 48 runs for the fifth wicket.
However, the exit of Rana, who was trapped leg before by Sai Kishore, saw North lose another wicket quickly.
Sindhu kept fighting but he did not get much support from the other end and Sai Kishore ran through the lower order.
North were dismissed for 207, giving South a mammoth first innings lead. The lanky spinner finished with 7 for 70 and played a huge role in the team securing the first innings advantage.
South did not enforce the follow-on and chose to bat a second time. Rohan Kunnummal, who scored a ton in the first essay, came with a quickfire 77 (72 balls) as the batters enjoyed the time out in the middle.
At stumps, South were 157 for 1.
Brief scores: South Zone 630 for 8 declared in 172.overs (Rohan Kunnummal 143, Hanuma Vihari 134, Ricky Bhui 103 not out) and 157 for 1 in 28 overs (Rohan Kunnummal 77, Mayank Agarwal 53 batting) vs North Zone 207 all out in 67 overs (Nishant Sindhu 40, Yash Dhull 39, Dhruv Shorey 28, R Sai Kishore 7 for 70). (Toss: South).
Central 33 for 2 in pursuit of 501 for win
West Zone reduced Central to 33 for 2 after setting a massive target of 501 to win the other semifinal.
Prithvi Shaw, who went after the bowlers on Friday and hit a whirlwind ton, continued to torment the Central bowlers. He moved to 142 from 140 balls (15 fours, 4 sixes) to help extend the lead.
Shaw was dismissed by Karan Sharma with the West score at 200 but that did not end the ordeal of the Central bowling unit. Armaan Jaffer (49) and wicketkeeper-batter Het Patel (67) frustrated the opposition attack and put the match virtually out of Central's grasp.
Patel was the last wicket to fall for 67 as West was bowled out for 371.
Left-arm spinner Kumar Kartikeya Singh was the best among Central bowlers taking three wickets to add to his first innings haul of 5 for 66.
When Central began its chase of 501, Chintan Gaja struck an early blow by removing Yash Dubey (14).
Later, spinner Shams Mulani got Himanshu Mantri (18) to leave the team in trouble at 33 for 2 with the last day's play remaining.
Brief scores: West Zone 259 all out in 85.4 overs (Rahul Tripathi 67, Prithvi Shaw 60, Shams Mulani 41, Kumar Kartikeya Singh 5 for 66) and 371 all out in 104.4 overs (Prithvi Shaw 142, Het Patel 67, Armaan Jaffer 49, Kartikeya Singh 3 for 105) vs Central Zone 128 all out in 40.1 overs (Karan Sharma 34, Tanush Kotian 3 for 17, Jaydev Unadkat 3 for 24) and 33 for 2 in 9.2 overs. (Toss: Central).