Paras Dogra saved North Zone from a disaster as he smashed an aggressive unbeaten 147 to take his side to 266 for seven on the first day of the Duleep Trophy final against South Zone in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday.
Electing to bat, North Zone were in deep trouble after they were reduced to 30 for three inside 20 overs and 57 for four at lunch against a South Zone bowling attack which has India players in R Vinay Kumar, Pragyan Ojha and Abhimanyu Mithun.
Dogra, who came in when North Zone were reeling at 30 for three, revived the innings, and in the able company of Yashpal Singh (32) and Uday Kaul (38) turned it around to take his side to a position from where they can hope to put up a good total on the second day.
Dogra was still going strong when the stumps were drawn, having smashed 16 fours and five sixes in his 201-ball innings. Joginder Singh was giving Dogra company on four.
North Zone made a horrible start to their innings after captain Amit Mishra called the coin correctly with openers Nitin Saini (3) and Shikhar Dhawan (5) getting out cheaply at team score of nine inside 10 overs.
Soon even the Delhi Ranji team captain Mithun Manhas joined the duo inside the dressing room after scoring just seven.
North's revival began in the post-lunch session with Dogra first stitching a 99-run stand with Yashpal for the fifth wicket before sharing another 89-run partnership for the sixth with wicketkeeper Uday Kaul.
The two substantial partnerships took North Zone score past 250, and that too at a decent run-rate of 2.95 as full 90 overs were played today at the VDCA Cricket Stadium here.
The visitors will now hope to add more runs tomorrow and cross the 300-run mark, although that will depend mainly on Dogra.
North Zone would require Dogra to stay at the crease for as long as possible tomorrow and take most of the strike to shield the tailenders, with only Ishant Sharma and Sumit Narwal to come.
For South Zone, Vinay Kumar took two wickets for 28 and his pace colleague Sreenath Aravind claimed two for 40.
Mithun, Ojha and Abhinav Mukund took a wicket each.