Chennai:Ajinkya Rahane continued his impressive domestic form by slamming an unbeaten hundred (109) to take a depleted West Zone to a comfortable 303 for five on the first day of the five-day Duleep Trophy final against South Zone on Thursday.
Rahane, who scored over 1000 runs in this year's Ranji season for champions Mumbai, remained unbeaten 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 would have been in a more commanding position had not they lost two quick wickets - that of Thaker and Abhishek Nayar - towards close, both dismissed by S Sreesanth.
At stumps, Siddarth Trivedi (0 not out) was giving Rahane company after Jaffer elected to bat at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Rahane, who struck his eighth first class century on Thursday, 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, who were without Zaheer Khan, Yusuf Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja, busy on India duty in Sri Lanka, made a solid start reaching 128 for one 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 their task in negotiating South 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 held fort 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 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.