Central ahead after Ojha's double ton

Wicketkeeper-batsman Naman Ojha continued from where he had left on the opening day to notch up his second double ton in first-class cricket this year to help Central Zone amass 538 on day two of the four-day Duleep Trophy semifinal match against North Zone, here on Thursday.

In reply, North ended on 130 for two with skipper Gautam Gambhir (68 batting) and Yuvraj Singh (25 batting) battling it out.

But the day belonged to Ojha, who started on his overnight score of 122, to smash 217 runs — his second-highest first-class score after his unbeaten 219 against Australia A in July. The Madhya Pradesh batsman struck 23 boundaries and three sixes in his over seven-hour stay at the crease to give the North bowlers a hard time.

In his last four first-class innings, Ojha, 31, has accumulated an astounding 647 runs. Starting on the overnight score of 344 for three, Central Zone, who had elected to bat, carried on with Ojha and Ashok Menaria (62) taking the momentum forward. If his third-wicket partnership with Jalaj Saxena (110) was the highlight of the opening day then Ojha’s fourth-wicket stand with Menaria dominated proceedings on the second day.

Central’s lower-order also contributed with skipper Piyush Chawla (34), leg-spinner Karn Sharma (27) and debutant Kuldeep Yadav (21) coming up with useful contributions.

Medium-pacer Rishi Dha­wan (3/123) and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (3/150) were the pick of the North bowlers while pace spearhead Samiullah Beigh (2/100) and off-spinner Parvez Rasool (2/89) picked up two wickets each.  Responding to the huge score, North lost opener Jiwanjot Singh (2) and Virender Sehwag (32) early.

North still trail by 408 runs in the first innings with 208 more required to avoid the follow-on.

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