Jai Prakash Yadav grabbed four wickets to rip apart the South Zone middle order and power Central Zone to a 25-run victory in the Deodhar Trophy league tie at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday.
Yadav finished with figures of four for 44 in 10 overs bowled at a stretch as Central dismissed South for 226 in 45.4 overs after scoring 251 for nine in 50 overs.
Yadav made the ball 'talk' with a stiff cross-breeze for help under lights to send back South skipper and main hope V V S Laxman (35) and Venugopal Rao in successive balls in his fourth over.
Laxman was comprehensively bowled by a sharp in-dipper while Rao chased a wide ball and snicked behind the wickets before Yadav added the wickets of S Badrinath and Arjun Yadav to effectively seal South's fate.
South's Thilak Naidu (45) and B Akhil (25) fought back with a stand of 57 for the eighth wicket but it was in vain.
Rudra Pratap Singh got a late but deserving reward for his fiery bowling with the wickets of the top two scorers Rowland Barrington (70) and Naidu.
The Uttar Pradesh bowler, who missed the World Cup berth, and his other left arm statemate Salabh Srivastava had bowled fiery opening spells to reduce South to 28 for 2 before Yadav cut through the middle.
Earlier, Central rode on a Shreyas Khanolkar's half-century (54) and Mohammad Kaif's 43 to post a competitive score after opting to bat first.
It was Central's first win in three ties and they have four points while South slumped to their second straight defeat.
Naidu and Akhil only delayed the inevitable while also denying Central a bonus point.
The league table is led by West with nine points from two matches with North second on five from one. East and Central have three each from two and three matches respectively while South stood at the bottom without a point to their name.
Sunday's clash between North and West could well decide which way the title is headed.