Manish Pandey justified his reputation of being the most sought after uncapped Indian player as he smashed his way to an unbeaten 203 not out as South Zone notched up 416 for eight against Central Zone on the first day of the Duleep Trophy semi-final being played at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Uppal.
The foundation of the South innings was based on a 174-run third wicket partnership between Pandey and his former India colts colleague Abhinav Mukund (105, 146 balls, 21x4) after the hosts were in a spot of bother at 56 for two having lost Robin Uthappa and skipper Subramanium Badrinath.
Both Pandey, (19x4 and 7x6 in only 191 deliveries) and Mukund were severe on Central bowlers, clobbering them for 174 runs in less than 30 overs.
Pandey was especially severe on little-known Vidarbha off-break bowler Akshay Wakhare who went for 114 runs in 21 overs.
Finally, RP Singh dismissed Mukund caught by Central skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar. Although Pandey went from strength to strength as he scored his maiden double century in first-class cricket surpassing his previous best of 194.
Pandey also shared couple of crucial partnerships -- 64 runs for the fourth wicket with India discard Dinesh Karthik (37) and 53 for the fifth wicket with statemate Amit Verma (19).
Save Pandey and Mukund none of the other South batsmen stayed at the crease for long which could have further consolidated their position in the match.
South Zone 1st innings
A Mukund c Kanitkar b Singh 105
RV Uthappa c Ojha b Singh 1
S Badrinath run out (Bundela) 13
MK Pandey not out 203
KD Karthik c Ojha b Yadav 37
Amit Verma c Ojha b Wakhare 19
CM Gautam c Singh b Pankaj Singh 0
R Vinay Kumar b Pankaj Singh 5
A Mithun c Ojha b Yadav 28
Extras: 5 (b 2, lb 2, w 1)
Fall of wickets: 1-15 (Uthappa, 4.1 ov), 2-56 (Badrinath, 14.1 ov), 3-230 (Mukund, 43.2 ov), 4-294 (Karthik, 55.4 ov), 5-347 (Amit Verma, 70.4 ov), 6-350 (Gautam, 71.6 ov), 7-372 (Vinay Kumar, 79.4 ov), 8-416 (Mithun, 89.2 ov).
Bowling: RP Singh 23-3-98-2 -4.26, Pankaj Singh 22-2-85-2-3.86, U Yadav 20.2-3-85-2-4.18, AA Wakhare 21-2-114-1-5.42, D Bundela 3-0-30-0-10.00 (1w).