An incisive spell of seam bowling by Karnataka's Abhimanyu Mithun helped South Zone reduce Central Zone to 123 for five on a rain curtailed first day of the Duleep Trophy semi-final in Chennai.
Only 50.2 overs of play was possible on the day with Uttar Pradesh's beefy left-hander Mukul Dagar scoring 45 while the domestic heavyweights like Mohammed Kaif (6) and Robin Bist (18) failed to make any substancial contribution.
Mithun was the pick of the bowlers with figures of three for 24 in 10 overs.
Opting to bat, Central Zone suffered a setback when veteran right-handed opener Vineet Saxena (0) was bowled by inswinger from Mithun.
Karnataka seamer used the overcast conditions to his advantage as he got the ball to swing appreciably.
India discard Kaif (6) also received a seaming delivery and played to a wrong line to get bowled.
At 13 for two, Dagar and Bist came together adding 56 runs for the third wicket. The duo batted for nearly 23 overs before Bist padded an arm ball from Pragyan Ojha to be adjudged plumb in-front.
Dagar, who showed a lot of patience, finally edged an angling delivery from Mithun to wicketkeeper CM Gautham behind the stumps. Dagar faced 105 balls and hit six boundaries in his innings of 45.
At 76 for four, Vidarbha batsman Shalabh Srivastava (18 batting) and Naman Ojha (23) added 43 runs to steady the ship but the Central Zone glovesman was trapped leg-before by a classical off-breal from Malolan Rangarajan at the fag end of the day.
Central Zone (first innings):
Mukul Dagar c CM Gautham b A Mithun 45
Vinit Saxena b A Mithun 0
Mohd. Kaif b A Mithun 6
Robin Bist lbw b P Ojha 18
Shalabh Srivastava batting 18
Naman Ojha lbw b Rangarajan 23
Piyush Chawla batting 4
Extras: (Lb-1, Nb-8) 9
Total (for five wkts in 50.2 overs) 123
Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-13, 3-69, 4-76, 5-119
Bowling: Abhimanyu Mithun 10-2-24-3, Sandeep Warrier 11-1-28-0, Manish Pandey 3-0-9-0, Pragyan Ojha 16.2-11-7-1, Malolan Rangarajan 9-2-34-1, Abhinav Mukund 1-0-10-0.
Image: Abhimanyu Mithun
Photograph: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Reuters