Pacers Zaheer Khan and Laxmipathy Balaji claimed four wickets each to bundle out Uttar Pradesh for a lowly 148 before the Rest of India themselves collapsed to 131 for seven on an eventful opening day of the Irani Trophy match in Nagpur on Monday.
As many as 17 wickets perished on the opening day of the five-day match, as batsman on both sides had a tough time trying to negotiate the slight seam movement that the pitch at the VCA Stadium was offering.
Batting first, a depleted Uttar Pradesh, missing Suresh Raina, Mohammad Kaif, R P Singh and Piyush Chawla, comfortably reached 102 for 2 fifteen minutes before lunch. But then the tragedy struck as Zaheer and Balaji got among the wickets.
Zaheer (4 for 46) and Balaji (4 for 29), trying to make a comeback to the national team, struck regularly to reduce the Ranji champions to 115 for 5 at lunch.
Openers Shivkant Shukla (52) and Praveen Kumar (42) showed some early resilience but batsmen down the order failed to make much impact on a fairly seaming wicket.
The post-lunch session saw the combination of Zaheer and Balaji play havoc against some irresponsible batting display from the Ranji champions. Left-arm spinner M Karthik chipped in with 2 for 23.
Rest of India made a confident start putting 64 for the opening wicket through skipper Wasim Jaffer (45) and Gautam Gambhir (20). The exit of Gambhir, bowled by lanky paceman Praveen Kumar, signalled the collapse for the Rest of India side.
Robin Uttappa (8), Venugopal Rao (0), Dinesh Karthik (11), paid for some rash strokes. Proven Kumar (3 for 27) and pacer S Srivastava (3 for 47) did the damage. S Badrinath (35 not out) is holding one end up with patience with his side still requiring another 18 runs to overhaul UP's first innings total.
Uttar Pradesh first innings:
P Kumar c Karthik b Balaji 42
S Shukla c Badrinath b M Kartik 52
T Srivastava b Z Khan 1
Ravikant Shukla c Badrinath b M Kartik 9
R Shamshad c Karthik b Balaji 0
Jyoti P Yadav lbw b Z Khan 0
G Pandey lbw b Balaji 18
Amir Khan c Ojha b Balaji 6
Avinash Yadav c Karthik b Z Khan 0
S Srivastava lbw b Z Khan 6
A Zaidi not out 0
Extras (lb:7, b:4, nb:3, w:0) 14
Total (all out in 46 overs) 148
Fall of wickets: 73-1, 76-2, 110-3, 115-4, 115-5, 115-6, 128-7, 134-8, 144-9, 148-10.
Bowling: Zaheer Khan 15-6-46-4, V R V Singh 9-1-39-0, Murali Kartik 8-1-23-2, L Balaji 14-5-29-4.
Rest of India first innings
W Jaffer c Shukla b P Kumar 45
G Gambhir b P Kumar 20
R Uthappa c Shukla b S Srivastava 8
Venugopal Rao c A Khan b S Srivastava 0
D Karthik c Shukla b P Kumar 11
S Badrinath not out 35
M Kartik run out 5
Z Khan b S Srivastava 1
L Balaji not out 0
Extras (lb:0, b:0, nb:6, w:0) 6
Total (for 7 wickets in 37 overs) 131
Fall of wickets: 64-1, 74-2, 74-3, 74-4, 92-5, 108-6, 116-7.
Bowling: A Zaidi 8-1-36-0, S Srivastava 12.3-2-47-3, Pravin Kumar 10-2-27-3, Avinash Yadav 6.3-2-21-0.