Baba Indrajith's scintillating hundred and Krishnappa Gowtham's rearguard 43 took South Zone past West Zone's first-innings total on an interesting second day of the Duleep Trophy final at the SNR College Ground in Coimbatore.
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 318/7 -- 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 243/6, but all-rounders Gowtham and T Ravi Teja (26) added 63 for the seventh wicket in just 16.2 overs, and in the process, surpassed 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 R Sai Kishore (6 not out) for company.
Earlier in the day, Mayank Agarwal was caught in the slips by Yashasvi Jaiswal off seamer Atit Seth's delivery. South Zone captain Hanuma Vihari (25), whose Test batting slot is in line, was then caught plumb in-front, but Indrajith was more dominant during 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 had 14 fours in it and the 105-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Pandey put South in the driver's seat.
Pandey, who had quickly hit four fours and a couple of sixes, looked to convert it into a big score but was castled two short of fifty by offspinner Tanush Kotian.
The difference between the two sides was how the spinners fared. While Sai Kishore and Gowtham choked the run-flow for the South, West's offspinner duo-- Ranji Trophy's highest wicket-taker Shams Mulani (0-73 in 14 overs) and Kotian (1-110 in 27 overs) -- gave away 183 runs in the 41 overs between them.
Jaydev Unadkat (3-52), the domestic warhorse, did his bit and got support from former India U-19 pacer Atit Seth (3-51).
Brief Scores: West Zone 1st Innings 270 all out (Het Patel 98, R Sai Koshore 5-86). South Zone 1st Innings 318/7 (Baba Indrajith 118, Manish Pandey 48, Krishnappa Gowtham 43, Jaydev Unadkat 3-52, Atit Seth 3-51).