Delhi clawed its way back through late strikes of Sumit Narwal but Uttar Pradesh took a vital first innings lead of 57 runs on the second day of their Group B Ranji Trophy match in Ghaziabad.
Burly left-handed opener Mukul Dagar scored an impressive 116 and added 196 runs for the second wicket with Mohammed Kaif (91) as UP reached 292 for six in reply to Delhi's modest first innings score of 235.
Old warhorse Narwal's (3/48) late evening spell however brought smiles back in the Delhi camp as he removed Dagar, Parvinder Singh and Arish Alam to effect a mini slump.
Ishant Sharma too managed to get finally get a wicket when he dismissed Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
UP skipper Suresh Raina went into a shell in the post-tea season and his negative approach rubbed on other UP batsmen as they let Delhi crawl their way back in the match. Raina scratched to remain unbeaten on 19 from 70 balls.
Although, UP enjoy a first innings lead but if Delhi can manage to keep the lead to less than 100, they can still think of an outright result.
Much was expected from Ishant as this is the only match before the squad for the first two Test matches is selected but the speedster never looked like getting wickets. There were times when his run-up troubled him as he overstepped while at other times he didn't hit the proper channel.
Ishant, who had removed Tanmay Srivastava on Friday had figures of 18-2-61-2 but more than wickets, what was more disappointing was the lack of discipline in his bowling.
With the ever-profligate Pradeep Sangwan and a veteran Ashish Nehra being his partners, the gangly fast bowler never looked like as if he was in his element.
Nehra also disappointed as he went for 64 runs in 18 wicket-less overs. The moment Ishant tried to use the short-pitched stuff, Kaif was in perfect position to play the pull shot while stockily-built Dagar repeatedly punched him through the cover area.
Dagar's backfoot play was pleasing to the eyes while he looked very assured with his on-side play. His innings of 116 off 214 balls contained 14 boundaries. With the seasoned Kaif for company, the former India U-19 player stamped his authority in his second first-class game.
The best shot will be a backfoot cover drive off Sumit Narwal's bowling. The opener left anything that was bowled in corridor of uncertainty.
Kaif's knock will also prove to be an important one in the context of the match. He complemented his junior partner very well even though he hit some good strokes. One such shot was a pulled six off Nehra's short ball, which incidentally was the first six of the match.
Virender Sehwag suffered a finger injury while fielding in the slip cordon. He did not comeback to the field in the post-tea session. However he will be fit to bat in the second Delhi innings, according to coach Vijay Dahiya.
Delhi 1st Innings: 235 all out
Uttar Pradesh 1st Innings: 292 for six in 95.4 overs (M Dagar 116, Mohd Kaif 91, S Narwal 3/48, Ishant Sharma 2/6).