Peter Ingram led Central Stags bid to save the match and then force a substantial lead to defend against Wellington Firebirds at Palmerston North.
Ingram made 60 after half centuries by middle-order trio BJ Crook, Dewayne Bowden and Chris Nevin gave Wellington first innings points.
The Firebirds saw off the Stags’ 150, replying with 327 in their first bat.
Ingram’s knock, supplemented by 24 from George Worker and a second-wicket stand of 95 with captain Tim Lythe (35) moved them within distance of levelling terms.
Mark Gillespie had Ingram caught by substitute fielder Iain O’Brien in the dying stages of the day’s play.
At stumps, the CD second innings stood on 164 for two, 32 adrift of the Firebirds, who currently occupy the second final berth in the table.