Skipper Devendra Bundela scored an unbeaten 92 while opener Jalaj Saxena struck a fluent half-century to help Madhya Pradesh post 281 for five against Punjab on the first day of their Ranji Trophy Group A match in Gwalior on Saturday.
Electing to field after winning the toss, medium pacer Sandeep Sharma proved his captain's decision right when he had wicketkeeper Naman Ojha trapped in front of the stumps for two.
Next man-in, Rameez Khan (25) combined well with Saxena and stiched a 91-run partnership for the second wicket before the latter was caught by Rahul Sharma off Sandeep.
Right-arm medium pacer Baltej Singh and Sandeep then sent back Saxena and Udit Birla (4) within a space of 10 runs to leave the hosts staring down the barrel at 126 for four.
Jalaj struck 16 fours in his 109-ball stay at the crease.
Harpreet Singh (30) then joined Bundela and the two began a repair job with Harpreet showing character to fight it out against some hostile pace bowling.
Both raised a 73-run stand for the fifth wicket to take the team near 200-run mark. Baltej dismissed Harpreet to bring the hosts back into contention but the pair of Bundela and Rahul Bakshi (34 batting) devoid Punjab bowlers of any further success.
For Punjab, Sandeep finished with an impressive figure of three for 78 while Baltej picked up two for 47.
Indian middle-order batsman, Yuvraj Singh, who was dropped from the national squad for the final Test against England, bowled three overs conceding 11 runs.
Brief scores: Madhya Pradesh 1st innings: 281 for five in 88 overs (Devendra Bundela 92 not out, Jalaj Saxena 84; Sandeep Sharma 3/78).