Jharkhand batsman Ishank Jaggi scored a gutsy century to bail his team out of a precarious situation as East Zone finished their first innings at a respectable 232 against Central Zone on the third day of the Duleep Trophy final.
At stumps, Central were 12 for no loss after two overs when umpires stopped proceedings due to bad light.
While Jaggi pulled his team out of the troubled waters with a quality knock of 100 not out, Central off-spinner Jalaj Saxena was rewarded for his beautiful bowling as he ended with a five-wicket haul.
Jaggi's 100 came off 251 balls with the help of 12 boundaries. It was his sixth first-class hundred while Jalaj's 5/62 was his second five-for in longer version. The right-hand batsman got a reprieve when Bhuvneshwar Kumar dropped a sitter at mid-off with Murali Kartik being the unlucky bowler.
Starting the day at 64 for three, the Jharkhand lad in company of nightwatchman Iresh Saxena saw of the first hour without much difficult and also scored a few runs in the process.
While India discard Praveen Kumar kept things tight, he never looked like getting a wicket as Jaggi-Iresh duo added 49 runs for the fourth wicket before East faced another slump.
Jalaj bowled a classical off-break that saw Iresh (16) being bowled through the gate. Last match's centurion Saurabh Tiwary (0) pushed hard at an armer from Kartik only to edge it to Mahesh Rawat behind stumps.
Biplab Samantray (0) was out as he also tried to push hard at a loopy off-break bowled by Jalaj onky to be caught by Kartik stationed at first slip.
From 113 for three, East were again down in the dumps at 117 for six when Shiv Prakash Gautam (34, 5x4) joined his statemate Jaggi. The duo carried a repair job as they played confidently against Jalaj and Kartik adding 57 runs in the process.
While Kartik gave away only 23 runs in 20 overs, he bowled mainly to a negative line while Saxena kept attacking the batsmen. Gautam started the counter-attack as he time and again danced down the track to smother the spin. The wicketkeeper-batsman got a few boundaries in the process while Jaggi also punished anything that was drifting down leg-side.
It was the second new ball that did the trick for Central Zone as Praveen finally got a wicket removing Gautam who edged one to Rawat behind stumps. Basant Mohanty (2), who batted grittily in last match and Ashok Dinda (0) were removed by medium pacer Ishwar Pandey as East again suffered a collapse to be placed at 190 for nine.
But the East Zone tail wagged once again as Jaggi added 42 runs in company of Aloke Mangaraj to take his team past 200-run mark.
Jaggi finally decided to chance his arm as he played a couple of pull shots off Praveen as well as a few lofted shots off Kartik. With No 11 Aloke Mangaraj (3) being dropped twice on scores of 1 and 2 by Praveen and Ashok Menaria with Jalaj being the bowler on both occasions.
Jaggi played lofted shot over mid-on off Jalaj's bowling which took his score to 99 and then scampered home for a single to complete a well-deserved century.
Brief Scores: East Zone 1st Innings: 234 in 101.5 overs (Ishank Jaggi 100 no, SP Gautam 34, Jalaj Saxena 5/62). Central Zone 12/0 in 2 overs.