The 22-yard strip at the Bansi Lal stadium in Lahli turned out to be a minefield for Rajasthan and Haryana batsmen, as 18 wickets fell on the first day of the Ranji Trophy semi-final, on Tuesday.
If young Harshal Patel's eight for 34 saw Rajasthan being skittled out for 89, the defending champions had another youngster in Rituraj Singh, who took five for 36, to reduce the hosts to 82 for eight at stumps on the first day.
The Bansi Lal stadium track has always assisted seamers, especially at this time of the year, and it needed quality technique and lot of application to survive.
Unfortunately, batsmen from both sides were clueless against the ball that jagged around throughout the day.
Such was the dominance of the bowlers that only Rajasthan opener Vineet Saxena (32) and Haryana's lower-order batsman Jayant Yadav (23) had scores of over 20.
In the morning, Haryana captain Amit Mishra's decision to field first was vindicated by young Patel, who showed that his eight-wicket haul against Karnataka in the quarter-final was no fluke.
To his credit, he pitched the ball in the right areas, at a brisk pace, and got the ball to move both ways to knock the stuffing out of Rajasthan by dismissing their four top batsmen.
Aakash Chopra (4) and Rashmi Ranjan Parida (1) were dismissed by outgoing deliveries. Patel got opposition skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar (4) with a delivery that was angled across while in-form Robin Bist (0) got one that came in sharply.
Rajasthan's young right-arm seamer Rituraj also bowled out-swingers as he got rid of dependable opening duo of Nitin Saini and Rahul Dewan quickly to get his team back on track.
From the other end, veteran Pankaj Singh knocked out experienced Sunny Singh and Sachin Rana to bring Rajasthan right back in the match.
As of now, an outright result is very much on cards, as a slender first-innings lead by either of the teams will be of little consequence.
Rajasthan (1st innings):
A Chopra c Saini b Patel 4
V Saxena c Dewan b Patel 32
H Kanitkar c Saini b Patel 4
R Bist lbw Patel 0
R Parida c Saini b Sharma 1
P Yadav b Patel 6
D Yagnik c Saini b Patel 7
R Singh c Rana b Hooda 4
G Singh c Pawar b Patel 16
P Singh c Pawar b Patel 0
S Mathur not out 13
Extras: (lb-1, nb-1) 2
Total: (all out; 36.1 overs; 186 mins) 89
Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-17, 3-17, 4-18, 5-29, 6-46, 7-52, 8-62, 9-66.
Bowling: Sharma 15-6-23-1, Patel 15.1-4-34-8, Hooda 6-0-31-1.
Haryana (1st innings):
N Saini lbw RR Singh 5
R Dewan lbw RR Singh 2
S Singh c Chopra b P Singh 0
P Pawar b RR Singh 0
S Rana c Yagnik b P Singh 5
P Tehlan c P Singh b RR Singh 11
A Mishra c Bist b RR Singh 12
J Yadav lbw Mathur 23
M Sharma not out 16
H Patel not out 4
Extras: (B-4) 4
Total: (for 8 wickets in 41 overs) 82
Fall of wickets: 1-6, 2-7, 3-7, 4-12, 5-12, 6-31, 7-40, 8-73.
Bowling: Pankaj Singh 13-4-21-2, R Singh 15-5-36-5, S Mathur 13-6-21-1.