Chennai: Naman Ojha and Robin Bist scored a century each as the Central Zone virtually sealed a place in the Duleep Trophy final by taking a mammoth 488-run lead against South Zone with just one day to go in their semifinal.
Starting at a solid 127 for one, Central ended the day three at 378 for five in their second innings with Ojha and Bist scoring 104 runs each.
Even if Central declared their innings in the morning, it will be an impossible task for South to chase such a huge total with just 90 overs, 15 mandatory, at their disposal on the last day on Monday.
Ojha, who was 79 overnight, and Mohammed Kaif (43) started the proceedings for the visitors but the latter could add just two runs to his overnight total as he was scalped by Abhimanyu Mithun.
Ojha and Mohnish Mishra (33) added 44 runs for the third wicket before left-arm spinner KP Apanna broke the partnership by dismissing the opener. Ojha's faced 149 balls and smashed 11 fours and five sixes in his innings.
Bist came to the crease and played a gem of a knock for his side. In between Central lost Parvinder Singh (17).
Bist, whose 104 came from 178 balls with 10 boundaries, and Bhuvneswar Kumar (59) played till the last ball of the day and added 160 runs for the sixth wicket.
Kumar's 59 came off 162 balls with the help of seven shots to the fence.