Indrajith ton gives South Zone first-innings lead
South Zone 318 for 7 (Indrajith 118, Pandey 48, Gowtham 43, Sheth 3-51, Unadkat 3-52) lead North Zone 270 (Het Patel 98, Unadkat 47*, Sai Kishore 5-86) by 48 runs
B Indrajith's scintillating hundred and K Gowtham's rearguard 43 took South Zone past West Zone's first-innings total on an interesting second day of the Duleep Trophy final.
Indrajith's 118 off 125 balls, along with contributions from Manish Pandey (48) and Gowtham (43 off 55 balls), ensured that South finished the second day on 318 for 7 - 48 runs clear of West Zone's first innings score of 270.
The match did turn out to be interesting when South were in a spot at 243 for 6, but allrounders Gowtham and T Ravi Teja (26*) added 62 for the seventh wicket in just 16.2 overs, and in the process helped their team surpass West's total.
However, with the final being a five-day affair, South are still some distance away from ensuring a healthy lead, which might not happen with only Teja remaining among the recognised batters.
He has Sai Kishore (5 for 86 in 35.3 overs in West's first innings) for company, but the left-arm spinner would be more happy that he could grab a fifth five-for and deny young Het Patel (98) a chance to get to the coveted three-figure mark.
Mayank Agarwal pouched his catch, but later, when he came on to bat, he was caught in the slip cordon by Yashasvi Jaiswal off seamer Atit Sheth.
Hanuma Vihari (25), whose Test batting slot is on the line, was then caught plumb in front, after Indrajith had been the dominant partner in their stand of 61.
The Tamil Nadu right-hander played some gorgeous drives but was equally adept while working the deliveries pitched on his legs.
His 13th first-class hundred contained 14 fours, and his 105-run partnership for the fourth wicket with the seasoned Pandey put South in the driver's seat.
Pandey, who had quickly hit four fours and a couple of sixes, could have converted his start to a big score but Tanush Kotian, the Mumbai off-spinner, castled him two short of fifty.
The difference between the two sides was how the spinners fared. While Sai Kishore and Gowtham choked the run-flow for South, the two Mumbai spinners of West - Shams Mulani, the Ranji Trophy's highest wicket-taker last season, and Kotian gave away 183 runs in 41 overs between them, while combining for just one wicket.
Jaydev Unadkat (3/52) did his bit and also got a lot of support from former India U-19 player Sheth, but once Gowtham launched into Kotian, hitting him for successive sixes, the first-innings lead was there for the taking.