East Zone's hopes of reaching the final suffered a blow after they were all out for a modest 283 in their first innings against England 'A' in the Duleep Trophy cricket match at Amritsar on Friday.
Captain Shiv Sunder Das waged a lone battle with an unbeaten 124 but off-spinner James Tredwell walked away with the opening day's honours after claiming five for 101.
It was, however, right-arm seamer Graham Napier who did the damage by axing the East top order with his tidy spell to return with figures of three for 54.
The English need an innings or 10-wicket victory so as to claim maximum points from the match to advance to the final.
South Zone, the third team in the group, have four points from their historic win over the tourists while East have two by virtue of their first innings lead over South.
Put into bat, East, needing a victory to book their final berth, wasted the solid start given by Das and M S Dhoni who made a well paced 52 from 71 balls.
The duo added 93 runs for the opening stand before Dhoni was caught by Ed Smith off Steven Kirby (1-41) in the 25th over.
Napier then struck a double blow, trapping both Arindam Das and Deep Dasgupta for no score, reducing East to 99 for three.
It was all down hill for East from there on with Tredwell wiping out the middle and late order with his vicious off-breaks.
Test opener Das carried the bat through the day, spending six hours and 25 minutes at the crease and facing 294 balls for his century.
East Zone 1st innings:
S S Das not out 124
M S Dhoni c Smith b Kirby 52
Arindam Das LBW b Napier 0
D Dasgupta LBW b Napier 0
D Gandhi c Pietersen b Tredwell 7
K Powar LBW b Tredwell 13
L R Shukla c Newman b Tredwell 8
S Lahiri run out 17
U Chatterjee c and b Tredwell 23
D Mohanty c Pietersen b Tredwell 0
S S Paul b Napier 9
Extras (b-5, lb-9, nb-16) 30
Total (all out in 88 overs) 283
Fall of wickets: 1-93, 2-99, 3-99, 4-147, 5-171, 6-183, 7-227, 8-272, 9-272.
Bowling: Sajid Mahmood 19-7-42-0, Steven Kirby 15-6-41-1, Graham Napier 18-6-54-3, James Tredwell 24-0-101-5, Graham Wagg 12-3-31-0.