Bangalore: Central Zone's Mohammad Kaif on Sunday posted a captain's knock of 87 runs to draw the match but could not prevent South Zone from entering the Duleep Trophy semi-finals by virtue of their narrow three-run first-innings lead.
Resuming on their overnight 345 for 6, South Zone were all out for 377 to set Central 381 for victory on the fourth and final day of the match at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Central ended up with 255 for 9 in 67.4 overs with leg-spinner M Suresh taking six wickets and Robin Uthappa returning figures of 3-26.
Central started well with openers Tanmay Srivastava (44) and Shivakant Shukla (31) adding 71 runs, but wrecker-in-chief Suresh collected three wickets in quick succession as South took control of proceedings.
Suresh struck with his first ball to get rid of Srivastava before lunch and on resumption, dismissed Yere Goud and Shukla in quick succession.
With the openers and Goud returning to the pavilion, Kaif and Parvinder Singh steadied the innings, but Suresh triggered another collapse and Central lost three wickets for 29 to find themselves reeling at 184 for 6.
At tea, Central Zone, who had just a little over two sessions to chase 381, reached 207 for 6 with Piyush Chawla giving Kaif company. Chawla contributed a valuable 22 in a 48-run seventh-wicket partnership with Kaif to prolong the innings, and helped prevent his team from getting bundled out.
Earlier, Central's Pankaj Singh finished with 5 for 90 as South lost their overnight centurion Dinesh Karthik without adding anything to his overnight score of 103.
He edged Umesh Yadav to Naman Ojha, who rounded off a solid performance behind the stumps with six dismissals in the innings.
Pankaj removed L Balaji and S Sreesanth off successive deliveries to wrap up the innings for 377 and claim his sixth five-wicket haul in first-class cricket.
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