Bangalore:Rahul Dravid (118) and Dinesh Karthik (103) combined to rescue South Zone from a top-order collapse, guiding them to a 348-run second innings lead against Central Zone on the third and penultimate day of their Duleep Trophy match on Saturday.
South Zone ended the day 345 for six riding on the duo's 125 run fifth-wicket partnership.
Earlier, Central Zone's first innings ended just two balls into the morning session as L Balaji removed Umesh Yadav for a duck to bundle out the team for 326, falling three runs short of South Zone's first innings total of 329.
South's second essay didn't start all that well either and openers Abhinav Mukund (1) and Robin Uthappa (16) were dismissed early on.
While Uthappa fell to Pankaj Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar cleaned up Mukund's defence.
Badrinath, sent up the order at number three, came a cropper too and was dismissed for a nought by Bhuvneshwar leaving South reeling at 24 for 3 in the ninth over.
But Dravid and Arjun Yadav (68) steadied the innings to close the morning session at 102 for 3.
The duo's partnership yielded 154 runs for the fourth wicket before Yadav edged a Murali Kartik delivery to wicketkeeper Naman Ojha.
Next man Karthik picked up from where Yadav had left and combined with Dravid for another solid partnership that came off 173 balls.
But after a patient 217-ball knock, Dravid departed caught behind by Ojha off the bowling of Bhuvneshwar. The former India skipper struck 17 fours during his patient innings.
Karthik, however, held the other end completing a fast-paced 120-ball century that was studded with 17 fours.
M Suresh added another 15 runs to the total before becoming Umesh Yadav's victim, leaving Karthik and R Ashwin (4) as the two unbeaten batsmen at the crease when stumps were drawn.