Skipper Dinesh Karthik led from the front a with an unbeaten 161 to lift South Zone to an impressive 356 for six against West Zone on the opening day of the Duleep Trophy final in Hyderabad on Tuesday.
Karthik, who plundered 23 fours in his 277-ball innings, forged three crucial partnerships with middle-order batsmen to shape South's first innings after a poor start.
Irfan Pathan dismissed South openers Srikkanth Anirudha (19) and K B Pawan (0), and Dhawal Kulkarni accounted for Arun Karthik (22) to reduce South to 76 for three.
But Karthik then got into the act and batted with determination to take his team to a fighting total. He shared a 44-run stand for the fourth wicket Ganesh Satish (53) to steady the innings before Pathan (3/68) struck yet again and scalped the latter.
Karthik found another solid partner in Muralidharan Gautam (49) with whom he put on 121 for the fifth wicket.
Guatam missed out on his half-century but did a great job before becoming the victim of Ravindra Jadeja (2/58).
Except for the players and officials, no one was there at the Rajiv Gandhi stadium to witness the resurrection of South's innings as the Hyderabad Cricket Association kept spectators away from game fearing crowd trouble due to the Telangana dispute.
However, the absence of crowd did not diminish Karthik's enthusiasm as he added another 89 runs with Rohan Prem (24) for the seventh wicket.
Karthik and Chandrasekar Ganapathy (8) were at the crease when stumps were drawn for the day.