Chasing a daunting 678 for victory, South Zone squandered the fine start given by their openers Robin Uthappa (94) and M Vijay (63) to end the fourth and penultimate day of the Duleep Trophy final against West Zone at a precarious 232 for four in Chennai on Sunday.
Still 446 runs adrift of an unlikely win, the hosts had captain and first innings centurion Subramaniam Badrinath (35 not out) and wicketkeeper batsman Dinesh Karthik (27 not out) at the crease when stumps were drawn for the day.
South Zone's chase went haywire after Vijay and Uthappa's solid first-wicket stand of 165. The duo negotiated the bowlers, particularly the spinners, confidently but both perished while going for ambitious shots.
Former Indian captain Rahul Dravid was dismissed for a duck when spinner Ramesh Powar's skidding delivery knocked off his defences.
Powar earlier separated the opening pair, when Vijay edged one to Parthiv Patel. Uthappa, meanwhile, perished after trying to hit Rajesh Pawar over long off, giving away a simple catch to Siddharth Trivedi at mid-off.
Uthappa, who was dropped by Wasim Jaffer at first slip when on 17, made 94 off 98 balls with 12 boundaries and three mighty sixes.
Powar, who was the most economical bowler in the match, took two for 54 while Rajesh Pawar claimed a wicket conceding 74 runs.
Earlier, resuming at their overnight score of 232 for 4, West Zone's batsmen played freely to amass 417 for eight in their second innings before skipper Wasim Jaffer declared the innings.
Parthiv Patel recovered from a cramp on the leg sustained on Saturday to hit a worthy 131, comprising 15 fours and a six.
Abhishek Nayar, who was unbeaten with nine to his credit, went about the task with a well-made 44, hitting three fours and as many sixes during the innings.
Parthiv decided to bat again after having retired hurt on the third day due to cramps when on 64.
He was dismissed by off spinner R Ashwin, giving away a straight forward catch to Robin Uthappa at mid-wicket.
In the next delivery, Powar (7) too made his exit when he offered an easy catch to Vijay at point of off-spinner M Suresh.
Jaffer, however, declared his team's second innings in the next three overs, with Rajesh Pawar (50) and Dhawal Kulkarni (8) remaining unbeaten.
West Zone (first innings): 459 all out
South Zone (first innings): 199 all out
West Zone (Second innings):
Parthiv Patel retired hurt 64
Wasim Jaffer lbw b Sreesanth 15
A Rahane c Karthik b Badrinath 98
Cheteshwar Pujara c & b Suresh 14
B Thaker c Dravid b Sreesanth 22
A Nayar c Badrinath b Jakati 44
K Jadhav c Dravid b Ashwin 16
R Pawar not out 50
R Powar c Vijay b Suresh 7
D Kulkarni not out 8
Extras: (B-9, Lb-2, W-1) 12
Total: (declared for 8 wickets in 92 overs) 417
Fall of wickets: 1-35, 2-182, 3-196, 4-228, 5-274, 6-298, 7-383, 8-396 Bowling: S Sreesanth 14-2-58-2, R Uthappa 3-0-12-0, R Ashwin 30-4-121-2, S Jakati 17-0-67-1, M Suresh 17-1-93-2, S Badrinath 9-1-38-1, M Vijay 2-0-16-0.
South Zone (Second innings)
M Vijay c Parthiv b Powar 63
Robin Uthappa c Tridevi b Pawar 94
S Badrinath not out 35
Rahul Dravid b Powar 0
Dinesh Karthik not out 27
Extras: (B-12, Nb-1) 13
Total (for four wkts, 50 overs) 232
Fall of wickets: 1-165, 2-167, 3-167.
Bowling: D Kulkarni 8-0-51-0, S Trivedi 10-2-37-0, Rajesh Pawar 14-0-74-1, Ramesh Powar 16-6-54-2, Abhishek Nayar 2-0-4-0.