Yuvraj Singh continued to be the star performer on the second day, registering his second-best First Class score of 208 (241b, 33x4, 3x6) and helping North Zone to score 451 against Central Zone in the four-day Duleep Trophy semifinal here on Monday.
Resuming at 346 for four, North was surprised by a more disciplined bowling attack on the second morning. With India discard Praveen Kumar making amends by bowling a much better line and length, and exploiting the early morning moisture to pick up four wickets, North found the going tough.
Left-arm spinner Murali Kartik was also spot-on, and struck big blows to complement Praveen’s efforts by taking four wickets, including that of Yuvraj.
At one stage, it looked doubtful whether North would reach 400, but Yuvraj held centrestage again.
He enjoys playing at this ground where he has hit four centuries in five matches including internationals.
His punch off the backfoot, flowing drives on either side of the wicket and extravagant pulls were a treat to watch. With wickets falling around him, Yuvraj assumed an aggressive role and reached the double century when he paddle-swept Kartik to the fence.
But, the wily bowler had the last laugh when he deceived the well-set Yuvraj into offering a return catch.
Central squandered the decent start given by openers Tanmay Srivastava and Vineet Saxena — they showed fine temperament in playing it safe to take the team to 61 for no loss in 29 overs at tea.
But in the final session, North bowlers came back strongly to pick up five wickets.
It all began with the suicidal run-out of opener Srivastava.
The scores: North Zone — 1st innings: R. Dewan lbw b Rituraj 17, S. Dhawan c & b Kartik 121, N. Saini c Bhuvaneshwar b Praveen 35, Yuvraj Singh c & b Kartik 208, Mandeep Singh c Kartik b Praveen Kumar 4, P. Dogra lbw b Praveen Kumar 37, R. Dhawan c Kaif b Bhuvaneshwar 3, A. Mishra lbw b Kartik 3, R. Sharma b Kartik 0, I. Sharma b Praveen Kumar 8, P. Awana (not out) 6, Extras (b-1, lb-4, w-2, nb-2) 9; Total (in 119.2 overs) 451.
Fall of wickets: 1-35, 2-110, 3-270, 4-275, 5-354, 6-357, 7-386, 8-390, 9-441.
Central Zone bowling: Praveen 27.2-7-92-4, Bhuvaneshwar 28-5-85-1, Rituraj 19-2-83-1, Saxena 16-1-66-0, Kartik 29-4-120-4.
Central Zone — 1st innings: T. Srivastava run out 23, V.A. Saxena c Yuvraj b Mishra 33, M. Kaif (batting) 34, R. Bist lbw b Awana 4, A. Menaria c Dhawan b Awana 4, J. Saxena lbw b Dhawan 15, M. Rawat (batting) 14, Extras (b-5, nb-14) 19; Total (for five in 58 overs) 146.
Fall of wickets: 1-64, 2-71, 3-80, 4-84, 5-117.
North Zone bowling: Ishant 10-2-23-0, Awana 11-1-29-2, Dhawan 11-2-21-1, Rahul 12-3-31-0, Mishra 13-3-31-1, Yuvraj 1-0-6-0.