Electing to bat, South Zone began on a disastrous note losing three wickets for a paltry 96 runs, which included skipper VVS Laxman, who was run out at 15.
Opener Robin Uthappa scored 57 runs before he was stumped by Parthiv Patel giving Rajesh Pawar a wicket on the team total of 96 runs.
Venugopal Rao and S Badrinath steadied the innings with a gritty partnership adding 87 runs for the third wicket.
S Badrinath compiled 42 runs before he was dismissed at the team score of 183, while Venugopal departed at the team score of 228 runs. After that, wickets fell at regular interval and the team scored 281 at the end of first day's play with S Sreesanth batting at five and P P Ojha at three.
Zaheer Khan scalped three wickets, while Rajesh Pawar and S Bahutule claimed two each. Siddharth took one wicket.
South Zone 281 for 9 (Robin Uthappa 57, Venugopal Rao 69, S Badrinath 42, Ambati Rayudu 26, Arjun Yadav 22; Zaheer Khan 3 for 38, S Bahutule 2 for 72, Rajesh Pawar 2 for 95) Vs West Zone