Former India batsman Mohammed Kaif played the anchor role with an unbeaten 108 as Central Zone recovered from a difficult position to end the opening day at 292 for eight in their Duleep Trophy semi-final against defending champions South Zone on Saturday.
At close, T Sudhindra (10) was giving company to Kaif (108 off 207) at the MA Chidambaram stadium in Bangalore.
For South Zone, medium pacer Stuart Binny maintained his form to claim three wickets conceding 47 runs off 15 overs, while Abhimanyu Mithun took two for 80.
Electing to bat, Central lost their first wicket when medium pacer Abhimanyu Mithun clean bowled opener Naman Ojha (9). That brought Kaif on to the crease at one for 25.
With three more wickets falling in the first session with Central at 91 for four at lunch, Kaif displayed total determination and steadily paced up his innings.
Kaif had to shoulder the responsibility as wickets fall at the other end at frequent intervals.
The Uttar Pradesh cricketer forged 27 for the second wicket in 12 overs with Rajasthan's Vineet Saxena (19), who made a double hundred at the same venue last month against Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy final.
Kaif then added 29 runs for the third wicket in nine overs with Mohnish Mishra (15)and then nine runs with Robin Bist for the fourth wicket when lunch was taken.
In the post-lunch session, Kaif started playing his shots more freely and reached his 50 mark off 90 balls in 136 minutes with seven fours.
During the session, Kaif managed to add 52 runs for the fifth wicket in 19.1 overs with Parvinder Singh (22) and then 48 for the sixth with Jalaj Saxena (29) in 13.1 overs.
The 31-year-old right-handed batsman brought up his hundred off 203 balls laced with 11 fours during his stay of 346 minutes at the crease.
He also realized a highest stand of 73 runs in 14.4 overs so far in the match with captain Piyush Chawla (52, 5x4, 3x6) for the seventh wicket.