Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman flopped with the bat but Team India discard Dinesh Karthik slammed a whirlwind 153 as South Zone posted 329 on the opening day of the Duleep Trophy match against Central Zone in Bangalore on Thursday.
In reply, Central Zone were 30 for no loss at stumps, with Tanmay Srivastava (13) and Shivakant Shukla (11) in the middle, still 299 runs behind South's first innings' total.
Laxman's decision to bat first at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium boomeranged and South Zone slumped to 86 for 6 before Karthik and M Suresh (58 not out) revived them.
Unheralded Vidarbha pacer Umesh Yadav turned out to be the pick of the Central Zone bowlers, claiming five for 76. His scalps included former India captain Rahul Dravid (7) and Laxman (13).
With the likes Robin Uthappa (22), Dravid, Laxman and S Badrinath (13) failing to shine with the bat, South Zone owed it to Karthik and Suresh as they crossed the 300-mark before eventually folding in 73.5 overs.
Karthik's blistering 153 came off just 113 balls. It was inclusive of 24 fours and four sixes.
He put on 146 runs for the eighth wicket with Suresh, who eventually ran out of partners and remained unbeaten on 58 off 92 balls with the help of seven fours.
Abhinav Mukund (13) and Uthappa gave South a sedate start adding 46 runs in 12-odd overs before Pankaj Singh dealt double blows, dismissing both in successive overs.
Yadav then took centrestage and wrecked the middle and top order with his five-wicket.
Yadav dismissed Dravid, Arjun Yadav (3), Laxman and R Ashwin (23), while Bhuvneshwar Kumar too chipped in with the important wicket of Badrinath.
Gasping for breath at 144 for 7, South Zone found its saviour in Karthik, who in company of Suresh decided to take the attack to the opposition camp and came hard after the Central bowlers.
Karthik scored at will and went after the Central bowlers, especially Parvinder Singh.
Finally, Bhuvneshwar struck in the 59th over, dismissing Karthik, and then Yadav castled L Balaji to complete his five-wicket haul.
Murali Kartik dropped curtains on the innings when he trapped S Sreesanth (8).
South Zone (1st innings):
A Mukund c Ojha b Pankaj Singh 13
R Uthappa c Kartik b Pankaj Singh 22
R Dravid c Parvinder Singh b Yadav 7
VVS Laxman c Ojha b Yadav 13
S Badrinath c Kartik b Kumar 13
A Yadav c Kaif b Yadav 3
K Karthik c Goud b Kumar 153
R Ashwin c Parvinder Singh b Yadav 23
M Suresh not out 58
L Balaji b Yadav 1
S Sreesanth lbw Kartik 8
Extras: (b 4, lb 4, w 2, nb 5) 15
Total: (all out; 73.5 overs) 329 (4.45 runs per over)
Fall of wickets: 1-46, 2-53, 3-57, 4-78, 5-81, 6-86, 7-144, 8-290, 9-310, 10-329.
Bowling: Pankaj Singh 17-3-77-2; B Kumar 20-4-68-2 (5nb, 1w); U Yadav 23-5-76-5; M Kartik 7.5-0-42-1; P Chawla 4-0-34-0; Parvinder Singh 2-0-24-0 (1w).
Central Zone (1st innings):
T Srivastava not out 13
S Shukla not out 11
Extras: (lb 2, w 2, nb 2) 6
Total: (for no wicket in 11 overs) 30
To bat: M Kaif, Parvinder Singh, B Kumar, Y Goud, P Chawla, M Kartik, N Ojha, Pankaj Singh, U Yadav.
Bowling: L Balaji 6-2-11-0; S Sreesanth 4-0-13-0 (2nb, 2w); R Ashwin 1-0-4-0.