Reeeling at a 154 for six, Central managed to finish the day at 300 for six thanks mainly to Kaif’s 112 (222b, 17x4) and his 118-run association with Chawla (70 n.o., 102b, 9x4, 2x6) for the seventh wicket. Praveen Kumar was giving left-hander the company at draw of stumps.
South skipper S Badrinath’s decision to bowl first was justified as Abhimanyu Mithun prised out opener Jalaj Saxena and number three Sanjay Bangar in no time. The Karnataka paceman cleaned up Saxena with a one that jagged back sharply while Bangar’s economy with his foot movement helped him get his second wicket when the 20-year-old rapped the veteran batsman on his pads to catch him plumb in front.
Kaif and Tanmay Srivastava (42) put on 55 for the third wicket but the latter’s wild slash at a widish delivery off Mithun put Manish Pandey in business at slip.
Left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati accounted for Suresh Raina while seamer C Ganapathy dismissed Parvinder Singh to further dent the Central innings. R Vinay Kumar then got rid of Naman Ojha, who trying to fend off a rising delivery could only manage to tickle it to gully where Arun Karthik brought up a brilliant one-handed catch diving full length to his left. At 154 for six, Central’s fate appeared sealed. However, Kaif stood firm and he found a firmer ally in Chawla as the duo helped their side share the honours.
CENTRAL ZONE (I Innings): Tanmay Srivastava c Pandey b Mithun 42, Jalaj Saxena b Mithun 7, Sanjay Bangar lbw Mithun 4, Mohammad Kaif c Pandey b Vinay Kumar 112, Suresh Raina c Ashwin b Jakati 22, Parvinder Singh c Arun Karthik b Ganapathy 1, Naman Ojha c Arun Karthik b Vinay Kumar 14, Piyush Chawla 70 batting, Praveen Kumar 17. Extras: ( LB-8, W-1, NB-2) 11. Total: (for 7 wkts, 90 overs) 300.
Fall of wickets: 1-22, 2-31, 3-86, 4-125, 5-126, 6-154, 7-272.
Bowling: R Vinay Kumar 23-2-89-2, A Mithun 18-5-44-3, C Ganapathy 14.2-3-34-1, R Ashwin 18.4-2-70, Shaddab Jakati 14-2-49-1, Abhinav Mukund 2-0-6-0.