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Uttar Pradesh all-rounder Bhuvneshwar Kumar's gutsy century helped script an unbelievable comeback for his side Central Zone as they are 10 runs shy of taking an all-important lead against North Zone in the Duleep Trophy semi-final. After North scored a commendable 451, the Central Zone riding on Bhuvenshwar's unbeaten 120 (12x4, 3x6) are tantalisingly close at 442 for nine. In fact, the 10th wicket partnership between Bhuvneshwar and Rituraj Singh who is batting on 21 yielded an astonioshing 100 runs.
The fact that these runs came in less than 22 overs is also laudable. While this match will always be remembered for Yuvraj Singh's double hundred, Bhuvneshwar's innings is no mean achievement considering he batted with the tail for the better part of his innings. A win will certainly make his maiden first-class ton even more memorable.
Starting the day at 146/5, skipper Mohammed Kaif who contributed 64 and glovesman Mahesh Rawat (71, 131 balls, 9x4) took the score to 219 before former India player was dismissed. Rawat was dismissed at the score of 251 while Praveen Kumar hit three sixes in his quickfire 27 before Amit Mishra dismissed him.
At 293 for eight, Murali Kartik (22) joined Bhuvneshwar as the pair added 49 runs for the ninth wicket to take the score to 342 before the former gave a catch to Yuvraj Singh at first slip to become Mishra's fourth victim. With 110 runs still to get and a wicket in hand, it looked like a mere formality for North Zone to get a sizeable first innings lead but Bhuvneshwar and Rituraj defied all odds as they negotiated both pace and spin with aplomb.
Batting on 99, Bhuvneshwar refused three singles to shield Rituraj and was helped by the defensive field set up of North Zone, who towards the close of play had nine men manning the the boundary rope.