South close in on win against Central in Duleep Trophy

Hyderabad: Abhinav Mukund (164) and Amit Verma (148) struck hundreds as South Zone inched towards an outright win over Central Zone at the end of third day`s play in the semi-final of the Duleep Trophy cricket tournament here on Friday.

Needing an improbable 770 runs to win, Central Zone were precariously placed at 73 for two in their second innings at stumps on the penultimate day of the four-day match.

Mohnish Mishra (30 not out) and wicket-keeper Naman Ojha (33 not out) were holding fort for Central after the visitors lost opener Aakash Chopra and skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar to Sreenath Aravind (2/15) in successive deliveries.

Earlier, resuming their second innings at the overnight score of 132 for two, first innings centurion Mukund and Verma notched up contrasting hundreds while CM Gautam made a 79-ball 78 to propel South to 504 for seven declared in their second innings.

The Central bowlers hardly bothered both the overnight South batsmen -- Mukund and Verma -- as they played fluently to share a 236-run stand for the third wicket.

While Mukund`s 164-run innings came off 216 balls and was studded with as many as 21 fours and three sixes, Verma faced just 161 deliveries en route to his ton during which he hit 15 boundaries and cleared the fence four times.

The partnership was eventually broken by Umesh Yadav (2/63) when he had Mukund caught by Devendra Bundela.

After Mukund`s dismissal, Verma joined forces with Gautam to stitch 60 runs for the fourth wicket before departing, caught by Mishra off Akshay Wakhare (2/153).

Brief Scores:

South Zone: 443 and 504 for 7 decl in 100.3 overs (Abhinav Mukund 164, Amit Verma 148; Umesh Yadav 2/63)

Central Zone: 178 and 73 for 2 in 15 overs (Naman Ojha 33 not, Mohnish Mishra 30 not out; Sreenath Aravind 2/15).