New Delhi: A well crafted unbeaten century by Wriddhiman Saha and his 194-run fourth wicket partnership with Ishank Jaggi (86) helped East Zone reach 258 for four against North Zone in the Duleep Trophy semi-final, here on Saturday.
Play was called off after 83 overs due to bad light at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground.
Wriddhiman, who scored his sixth first-class century was batting on 100 (166 balls) alongside Biplab Samantray, who is yet to open his account.
North Zone would feel encouraged from the fact that they dismissed Jaggi immediately after the second new ball was taken. The Jharkhand lad who got a reprieve on 22 (dropped by Mandeep Singh at gully off Parvinder Awana) scored 86 with 15 boundaries and a big six off Rajat Bhatia's bowling.
Wriddhiman and Jaggi joined hands when East were in trouble at 60 for three. India's reserve wicketkeeper in Test matches, carried the confidence gained from his decent show in the Adelaide Test as he played each and every ball on its merit. The kookaburra ball which does precious little in Indian conditions after the first few hours also helped their cause.
He was ready to wait for the loose deliveries and ran the ones and twos well. When Amit Mishra came into attack, he came down the track to hit his delivery over long-on for a six.
A spanking cover drive off Awana helped him reach his century. Jaggi, on his part, also hit a few lovely straight drives although he played and missed a few times compared to Wriddhiman's blemish-free innings.
In the morning, East Zone skipper Nataraj Behera won the toss and predictably opted to bat. Dhiraj Jadhav (33) and Manish Vardhan (21) cautiously added 60 runs before a sudden slump saw them lose three wickets without any addition to the score.
The grassy patches on the Kotla strip did not offer any extra help to the medium pacers. It was a delivery from Rajat Bhatia which kept very low to find Vardhan plumb in-front while another identical delivery from Awana saw Jadhav being castled.
Last match's centurion Behera was deceived by the slow nature of the pitch as he committed to his stroke early and offered a tame return catch as East slumped to 60/3.
"Having played some of the fastest bowlers in Australia had boosted my confidence and the kookaburra ball doesn't do much after the first few overs. That helped. Save Rajat Bhatia who was moving the ball both ways, none of the other bowlers troubled me," Wriddhiman said at the end of the day.
Asked about an ideal first innings target, he said, "Minimum 500 is required on this strip."
Brief Scores: East 258/4 (W Saha 100 bating, I Jaggi 86; R Bhatia 2/41).