Captain Manoj Tiwary led from the front with an unbeaten century as East Zone posted a respectable 278 in their first innings against West Zone on the opening day's play of the four-day Duleep Trophy quarter-final, in Lahli, on Wednesday.
Put into bat, East lost early wickets but Tiwary, who was left stranded on 100, batted well with the tail to give the team total a semblance of respectability. All-rounder Laxmi Ratan Shukla also made a significant contribution of a quickfire 54 from 31 balls.
From West, pacer Dhawal Kulkarni (3-62) led from the front to help bowl out the opposition in the final session of play. West reached 10 for no loss at stumps on Day 1.
West Zone skipper Cheteshwar Pujara will rue the fact that his bowlers could not seize the initiative even after having East on the mat at 116 for five and subsequently 200 for seven at tea.
It was Tiwary, who fought gallantly with a counter-attacking innings of 100 from 140 balls, laced with four boundaries and six sixes. He was never bogged down despite wickets falling regularly from the other end. In fact, when Shrikant Mundhe (2-56) cleaned up Basant Mohanty (8), the Bengal batsman was batting on 91 before he hit a six and then drove Kulkarni towards cover to scamper home for two runs to complete his 19th century in first class cricket.
Lastman Ashoke Dinda (0) was run out off the very next delivery to end the East Zone innings in 75 overs.
East lost an early wicket in the form of Ramiz Neemat (1) before Natraj Behra (25) and young left-hander Sudeep Chatterjee (37) steadied the ship by adding 54 runs for the second wicket. However, four wickets fell cheaply with Wriddhiman Saha (4) and Saurabh Tiwary (16) also departing cheaply.
East were struggling on 116 for five before Shukla joined Tiwary and started taking the bowlers head on. Both took on spinners Yusuf Pathan (2-55) and left-arm Akshay Darekar (1-38) as they were taken to the cleaners by the Bengal duo, who added 69 in 8.2 overs for the seventh wicket before Shukla was dismissed. He hit three sixes and six fours to race to his half-century from just 28 balls.
There was no stopping Tiwary despite a couple of quick wickets as he upped the ante and found some support in the form of Rana Dutta with the duo adding 63 for the eighth wicket.
With the pitch offering good bounce to the pacers, Tiwary also hit some audacious pull shots against Kulkarni, Shardul Thakur (1-59) and Mundhe.
East Zone 1st innings: 278 all out in 75 overs (Manoj Tiwary 100 not out, LR Shukla 54; Dhawal Kulkarni 3/62).
West Zone 1st innings: 10/0 (Aditya Tare 2*, Vijay Zol 8*).
Image: Manoj Tiwary