West Zone, knowing what they had to do to lift the Duleep Trophy, reached 274 for one at the end of the first day's play against East Zone at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata, on Tuesday.
East Zone need an outright win in this crucial encounter to lift the title, but a draw even after conceding the first-innings lead will give West the three points needed to surpass East's tally and win the Duleep Trophy.
Winning the toss, West skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar had no hesitation in opting to bat first. East broke through for the first and only time on the day after 12.3 overs, with Parag Das having Niranjan Godbole caught behind for only 18.
Therafter, Nilesh Modi and Kanitkar completely dominated the proceedings. Modi hit a sedate 88 off 285 balls, with eight fours, but the show's star was Kanitkar.
Making 154 off 232 balls, with 16 fours and two sixes, the West Zone skipper played with a maturity and responsibility that is growing on him. Realising the need of the situation, he played according to it, putting the bad balls away for four, rotating the strike off mediocre deliveries, and defending stoutly otherwise.
At the close of play, West Zone were 274 for one in 90 overs. Both Modi and Kanitkar were unbeaten, and only stand-out performances from East in both the batting and bowling departments can win this match for them from this stage onwards.