Gritty batting by Chirag Pathak (130) and Yousuf Pathan (84 not out) on Friday brought West Zone back into the game as their Duleep Trophy final against South Zone is heading for an exciting finish.
Chasing an improbable 536 for a win, West finished the day four at 379 for six, needing 157 more runs with Yusuf standing between their victory and defeat.
Wicketkeeper Penal Shah (0) was at the crease with first innings centurion Yusuf when the stumps were drawn for the day.
Resuming at 50 without loss and a mountain of runs to climb, Pathak and his fellow opener Harshad Khadiwale (45) batted with steely resolve as they put up 117 runs for the opening wicket.
Srikkanth Anirudha broke the partnership by accounting for Khadiwale but West skipper Wasim Jaffer [ Images ] carried on the good work and hit a composed 66, adding 107 for second wicket with Pathak.
Soon after Pathak's fall, Bhavin Thakar got his second successive duck and Jaffer too started his walk back, giving South enough reasons to think of a victory. Patahak's 168-ball knock had 16 fours and three sixes.
However, Yusuf had different plans as he wielded his willow in tremendous fashion. He went berserk and punished all South bowlers, hitting seven fours and five sixes in his 71-ball unfinished task.
His younger brother Irfan (42) also supported him well as the duo added 84 runs for the sixth wicket.
Irfan, who hit shots to the fence in his useful 47-ball knock, was castled by Alfred Absolem to bring relief for his side but not before the Baroda southpaw
Alfred Absolem was the most successful South bowler with two for 53 while C Ganapathy, S Aravind, Aushik Srinivas and S Anirudha took one wicket each.
South Zone 1st Innings: 400
West Zone 1st Innings: 251
South Zone 2nd Innings: 386/9 decl
West Zone 2nd Innings: (Overnight 50/0)
C Pathak b Absolem 130
H Khadiwale c Gautam b Anirudha 45
W Jaffer lbw b Ganapathy 66
B Thaker c Gautam b Aravind 0
Y Pathan batting 84
R Jadeja b A Srinivas 1
I Pathan b Absolem 42
P Shah batting 0
Extras (b-1, w-4, nb-6) 11
Total (For six wickets in 94 overs) 379
Fall of wickets: 1-117, 2-224, 3-239, 4-263, 5-294, 6-378.
Bowling: C Ganapathy 23-5-75-1, A Absolem 15-29-53-2, S Aravind 18-1-71-1, R Aushik Srinivas 26-1-137-1, S Anirudha 3-0-14-1, PR Prem 6-1-16-0, AB Karthik 3-0-12-0.