Mohammad Kaif and Naman Ojha scored fighting fifties as Central Zone overcame a wobbly start to post 169 for 3 in the first innings, after dismissing East Zone for 427, in the Duleep Trophy quarter-final at the Barabati stadium in Cuttack on Thursday.
The visitors were struggling at 55 for 3 at one stage but India discard Kaif (78) and Ojha (50) put together an unbeaten 114-run stand to help the team end the second day's play with a decent total.
Earlier, East Zone resumed at 328 for five and lost the last five wickets for the addition of 99 runs.
Wridhhiman Saha, who was unbeaten on 18 on Day 1, scored a valuable 69 runs before being run-out.
Saha's 69 included 11 hits to the fence and one over it, as he batted for 148 minutes, facing 98 balls.
Central made a disastrous start, losing M D Mishra (0) and Aakash Chopra (3) with the scorecard was reading just three.
The third wicket fell at 55, when Hrishikesh Kanitkar was caught by Natraj Behera off Iresh Saxena for 29.
A new lease of life was infused to Central Zone's batting as Kaif took command and scored 78 runs, inclusive of 12 hits to the boundary.
Kaif was well-supported by Ojha, who scored a patient 50. Both were at the crease at the end of second day's play.
For East Zone, Ashok Dinda, B C Mohanty and Iresh Saxena captured a wicket apiece.
East Zone (1st innings): 427
Central Zone (1st innings): 169 for 3