Mohali: Central Zone proceeded to the Duleep Trophy final with a first innings lead over North Zone as the four-day semi-final ended in a draw at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium here Saturday.
Central will now face South Zone, who defeated East Zone Friday, in the five-day final beginning Oct 29 in New Delhi.
Central had scored 538 in the first innings with wicketkeeper-batsman Naman Ojha top scoring with 217, for which he was named player of the match. North replied strongly with skipper Gautam Gambhir making a solid 167 but his team was bowled out for 457 at the end of the third day, giving Central the all-important first innings lead.
Central were given a scare Saturday when they started their second innings with three wickets down for only six runs. Another three went down with the total only at 95 which was when North were beginning to sense a chance of victory.
However, a strong century from Mahesh Rawat (116) and half-centuries from Karn Sharma (69) and Kuldeep Yadav (56), who is making his first class debut, dashed all hopes for North. Central were eventually bowled out for 312, giving their opponents a stiff target of 394 to chase with only a few overs remaining in the final day's play.
North played only five overs and ended the match at 24/1.
Himachal Pradesh's Rishi Dhawan (2/52) and Delhi's Parvinder Awana wreaked havoc for Central at the start but it was a little too late for the North Zone bowlers.
Brief scores: Central Zone 538 & 312 (Mahesh Rawat 116, Karn Sharma 69, Kuldeep Yadav 56; Parvinder Awana 3/30, Rishi Dhawan 2/52, Yuzvendra Chahal 2/91) drew with North Zone 457 & 24/1.