Rajesh Pawar bowled a devastating spell to capture six wickets as West Zone shot out East for a paltry 171 and then scored 102 for two in reply on the first day of the four-day Duleep Trophy semi-final in Mumbai on Thursday.
Mumbai-born Baroda left-arm spinner Pawar triggered a dramatic post-lunch collapse in which East, put in to bat by West, lost wickets in a heap and were bowled out in the second session in 61.3 overs at the Brabourne Stadium.
Pawar, who changed from the pavilion side to the opposite end after his first spell of two overs, started the slide by capturing the wickets of left-hander Saurabh Tiwary (24) and wicketkeeper Wridhiman Saha (0) with successive deliveries.
He later scalped top scorer Rashmi Ranjan Parida, who made a patient 63, inclusive of nine fours in 220 minutes, before adding the wickets of Anand Katti, Ranadeb Bose and Ashok Dinda to his kitty, while Sidharth Trivedi accounted for B Mohanty, to terminate the innings abruptly.
The diminutive slow bowler, who spun the ball appreciably and tossed it up too, finished with 6 for 34; his productive second spell read an impressive 7.3-3-22-6.
East, sailing along and looking good for a sizeable total at 136 for three, with Parida and Saurabh Tiwary having added 61 runs for the fourth wicket, got bowled out in 280 minutes.
Commencing their reply post-tea, West lost opener and captain Wasim Jaffer (0) early and Ajinkya Rahane (23). But Gujarat's Bhavik Thaker (42) and in-form Saurashtra batsman Cheteshwar Pujara (34) steadied the ship and took West to stumps without further loss with a stand of 70.
The wicket, with a sprinkling of grass and offering good carry and bounce, was not responsible for East's capitulation against Pawar.
East lost their captain Shiv Sunder Das to Dhawal Kulkarni, the Mumbai pacer and highest wicket taker in the Ranji Trophy this season, in the fifth over.
The lanky Trivedi then accounted for Dibyendu Chakrabarty after the opener, dropped at the same total of 5 by Abhishek Nayar at leg gully off the same bowler, edged him to first slip Pujara.
Pujara later dropped Parida off Trivedi when the total read 54 for two and the one-down batsman utilised his escape to steady the innings.
Manoj Tiwary played an ambitious flick off Nayar in the first over of the medium pacer's spell and the resultant skier was well caught by Trivedi at mid on, which left East struggling at 75 for 3 in the 27th over.
Saurabh Tiwary, who replaced Manoj, played some good cut shots and, with the well-settled Parida, started rebuilding the innings before Pawar lured him out of the crease with a flighted ball and had him caught smartly at short leg.
His dismissal started the slump from which East did not recover. Parida, till then cautious, also played a poor cross batted swipe against Pawar and was trapped in front.
The left arm spinner then ran through the bottom half with his flight and turn and at one time had taken three wickets in 14 balls.
Only some lusty hitting by last-man Dinda (12) spoilt his figures a bit. Halahar Das ran out of partners and was unbeaten on 15.
East Zone (1st innings):
D Chakrabarty c Pujara b Trivedi 36
S S Das lbw Kulkarni 0
R R Parida lbw Pawar 63
M Tiwary c Trivedi b Nayar 13
S Tiwary c Jadhav b Pawar 24
W Saha c Jaffer b Pawar 0
H Das not out 15
A Katti c Jaffer b Pawar 0
R Bose c Rahane b Pawar 1
B Mohanty c Rahane b Trivedi 0
A Dinda c Kulkarni b Pawar 12
Extras: (lb 5, nb 2) 7
Total: (all out in 61.3 overs) 171
Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-51, 3-75, 4-136, 5-136, 6-151, 7-151, 8-153, 9-154.
Bowling: Kulkarni 16-6-42-1, Trivedi 19-5-49-2, Fallah 10-5-19-0, Nayar 7-0-22-1, Pawar 9.3-3-34-6.
West Zone (1st innings):
B Thaker batting 42
W Jaffer c M Tiwary b Bose 0
A Rahane c Mohanty b Bose 23
C Pujara batting 34
Extras: (lb 1, nb 1, wb 1) 3
Total: (for 2 wkts, in 25 overs) 102
Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-42
Bowling: Bose 9-4-17-2, Mohanty 5-0-13-0, Dinda 7-1-42-0, Katti 3-0-21-0, M Tiwary 1-0-8-0.