Indore:S Badrinath celebrated his India call-up with a fluent 82, while Manish Pandey and R Ashwin also struck half-centuries as South Zone thumped Central Zone by five wickets to sail into the final of the Duleep Trophy on Friday.
Chasing 291 runs for victory, South lost both their overnight batsmen -- Arun Karthik (33) and Abhinav Mukund (19) -- early to slump to 72 for three which put the match on razor's edge.
Badrinath, named in the Indian squad for the first Test against South Africa next month, led from the front while Pandey (59) and Ashwin (59 not out), who shone both with the ball and bat in the match, chipped in with sparkling fifties as South Zone coasted to 293 for five in 70.2 overs.
They will take on West Zone in the final, which begins on February 2 in Hyderabad.
Skipper Badrinath topscored for South with a 116-ball knock that had 13 fours and a six.
Manish Pandey, who struck 52 in the first innings, hit his second fifty of the match with the help of eight fours and a six.
However, it was Ashwin who was the undisputed star of the match, hitting back-to-back half-centuries and taking six crucial wickets in Central Zone's second innings that tilted the balance in South's favour.