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Gambhir hits ton but Central take crucial first-innings lead

Skipper Gautam Gambhir’s 37th first-class century might have made his case stronger for an India comeback but his knock could not help North Zone overhaul Central Zone’s imposing first innings score on Day 3 of the four-day Duleep Trophy semi-final, here on Friday.

Responding to Central’s first innings score of 538, North fought hard but were bowled out for 457 as Gambhir top-scored with a patient 167. Gambhir’s fourth-wicket partnership with Mandeep Singh (74) was the highlight of the innings as North saw some useful contributions from Yuvraj Singh (47), wicketkeeper-batsman Nitin Saini (56) and Jammu and Kashmir all-rounder Parvez Rasool (44).

Another Delhi veteran, Virender Sehwag had already lost his wicket yesterday after a 22-ball 32 at the no.3 position. Gambhir, who batted for over five and a half hours, hit 18 boundaries but was finally scalped by Pankaj Singh’s new-ball partner Ishwar Pandey.

Central bowler Kuldeep Yadav (3-94) was the destroyer-in-chief, as the upcoming chinaman bagged three wickets to break North’s momentum time and again. Kuldeep, who is making his first-class debut, accounted for the wickets of Yuvraj, Rishi Dhawan (7) and Saini.

Seamers Pankaj (2-77), Pandey (2-86) and leg-spinner Karn Sharma (2-67) also chipped in with useful strikes while skipper Piyush Chawla also picked a wicket.
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