Ajinkya Rahane continued his impressive domestic form, slamming an unbeaten 109 that guided a depleted West Zone to a comfortable 303 for 5 on the first day of the five-day Duleep Trophy final against South Zone in Chennai on Thursday.
Rahane, who scored over 1000 runs in this year's Ranji season for champions Mumbai, was unbeaten at close after facing 211 balls, hitting 13 fours and two sixes for his century.
Captain Wasim Jaffer (69) and Bhavik Thaker (73) chipped in with a half century each.
The visitors, who elected to bat after winning the toss at the M A Chidambaram stadium, would have been in a more commanding position had not they lost two quick wickets -- those of Thaker and Abhishek Nayar -- towards close, both dismissed by S Sreesanth.
At stumps, Siddarth Trivedi (0) was giving Rahane company.
Rahane, who struck his eighth first class century in the process, stitched two solid stands -- 77 in 20 overs for the second wicket with Jaffer, and 134 in 40.4 overs with Thaker for the fourth wicket.
For South, who were able to get moderate turn from the wicket, medium-pacer Sreesanth and R Ashwin took two wickets apiece while Shadab Jakati chipped in with one.
West, without Zaheer Khan, Yusuf Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja -- all on India duty in Sri Lanka, made a solid start, reaching 128 for 1 in 34 overs before lunch though they lost opener Parthiv Patel for 27 with the scoreboard reading 55 for one.
Patel and Jaffer were up to the task in negotiating South's new ball bowlers Sreesanth and Vinay Kumar before Patel was out leg before to Ashwin.
The second session yielded 95 runs in exchange of two wickets -- Jaffer and Cheteshwar Pujara (14) -- and from then on Rahane took charge to take his side to 223 for 3 at tea.
Jaffer was clean bowled by leg-spinner Shadab Jakati while Pujara, like Patel, fell prey to Ashwin in front of the stumps.
The visitors were cruising at 297 for three at the 88th over when they lost Thaker, who paid the price for chasing a full-length outgoing delivery from Sreesanth only to end up edging to Rahul Dravid at slips.
Sreesanth then scalped Abhishek Nayar for a duck in the last over of the day.
West Zone (1st innings):
Parthiv Patel lbw b Ashwin 27
Wasim Jaffer b Jakati 69
Ajinkya Rahane batting 109
Cheteshwar Pujara lbw b Ashwin 14
Bhavik Thaker c Dravid b Sreesanth 73
Abhishek Nayar c Karthik b Sreesanth 0
Siddarth Trivedi batting 0
Extras: (B-4, W-1, NB-6) 11
Total: (for 5 wickets in 92 overs) 303
Fall of wickets: 1-55, 2-132, 3-163, 4-297, 5/303
Bowling: Sreesanth 14.2-3-65-2, Vinay Kumar 6.4-1-20-0, Ashwin 28-5-78-2, Suresh 17-4-56-0, Jakati 21-4-66-1, Badrinath 3-0-8-0, Uthappa 2-1-6-0.