Centuries from Shikhar Dhawan and Rajat Bhatia lifted Delhi to a position of strength against Tamil Nadu on the penultimate day of the Ranji Trophy Elite group match in Delhi on Saturday.
At the end of the third day, Delhi were well-placed on 309 for five in response to Tamil Nadu's first innings total of 347, only 39 runs from picking up the crucial first-innings lead.
When the day began, it was Tamil Nadu who seemed to have the edge and they picked the wickets of Delhi captain Mithun Manhas and debutant Virat Kohli.
Manhas made only 16 and was trapped lbw by Vijaykumar Yomahesh, the young medium pacer who has impressed in this match. It was Yomahesh who struck again, having Virat Kohli caught behind for only 10.
At 75 for four in just the 33rd over, Delhi were in a precarious position. But Bhatia, who has played for Tamil Nadu in the past, and Dhawan, fought back superbly, consolidating the innings.
Dhawan struck 15 fours in his 261-ball essay that yielded 106 runs before he was dismissed, again by Yomahesh, caught by Hemang Badani. The 133-run partnership for the fifth wicket had pushed the score along to 208.
When Dhawan was dismissed there was a ray of hope for Tamil Nadu, but this was soon snuffed out by Vijay Dahiya. The cheeky wicketkeeper-batsman scored quickly, striking boundaries through the off side at will. He ensured that the gap between Delhi and Tamil Nadu closed in a hurry.
All the while, Bhatia, who had earlier in the match contributed with the ball, bowling a tight spell and picking up the crucial wicket of opener M Vijay, batted sensibly and with great purpose. He sealed up one end completely, and played well within his limitations and richly deserved a century.
He was unbeaten on 101 and Dahiya had 51 to his name at the end of the third day's play.
Tamil Nadu (1st innings): 347
Delhi (1st innings):
A Chopra c Vijay b Mahesh 4
G Gambhir b Kumaran 0
S Dhawan c Badani b Mahesh 106
M Manhas lbw b Mahesh 16
V Kohil c Vikram b Mahesh 10
R Bhatia not out 101
V Dahiya not out 51
Extras: (b 5, lb 6, w 2, nb 8) 21
Total: (for 5 wickets; 108 overs) 309
To bat: C Nanda, RL Sanghvi, A Nehra, I Sharma
Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-25, 3-59, 4-75, 5-208.
Bowling: V Mahesh 28-9-92-4, D T Kumaran 26-10-90-1, R Sathish 29-13-44-0, A Kapoor 21-3-55-0, C Suresh 4-0-17-0.