Left-arm medium-pacer Ashish Nehra grabbed a five-wicket haul to help Delhi gain a slender but a vital first innings lead in their Ranji Trophy Elite Division Group 'A' clash against reigning champions Uttar Pradesh in Delhi on Sunday.
In pursuit of Delhi's score of 299, Uttar Pradesh, who resumed at 207 for 5, were dismissed 17 minutes before lunch for 287, handing the home side a lead of 12 runs, at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground.
By close of play on day three, Delhi were 165 for 3, stretching their lead to 177, with first innings centurion, opener Aakash Chopra (68) and Virat Kohli (13) unbeaten.
Coming up with a much-improved bowling performance, Delhi relied mainly on the efforts of Nehra (5 for 105) to swing the momentum, evenly poised at one stage, their way.
Promising youngster Ishant Sharma (3 for 79) complimented his senior partner at the other end by doing an efficient job, while spinner Chetanya Nanda too played his part, picking two important wickets in the middle-order.
The crucial moment of the game came when the dangerous looking Praveen Kumar (66) was brilliantly stumped down the leg-side by wicketkeeper Vihay Dahiya off Nanda before the hosts made optimum use of the second new ball to wrap the Uttar Pradesh innings.
A 50-run partnership for the seventh wicket between Praveen Kumar and Piyush Chawla (61) was looking extremely good for the holders. However, an alert piece of work behind the stumps turned the tide for Delhi.
With Delhi having secured the first innings lead and the wicket offering nothing to the bowlers, the final day's play would be of mere academic interest unless the visitors unfold a dramatic turnaround, which looks highly unlikely.
Delhi (1st innings): 299
Uttar Pradesh (1st innings):
R Srivastava c sub b Nehra 39
S Shukla b Sharma 8
T Srivastava b Nehra 73
Ravikant Shukla c Dahiya b Nehra 0
R Shamshad b Sharma 4
Jyoti P Yadav lbw b Nanda 16
P Kumar st Dahiya b Nanda 66
Piyush Chawla b Sharma 61
Amir Khan lbw b Nehra 0
R P Singh c Chopra b Nehra 2
S Srivastava not out 0
Extras: (b 4, lb 4, nb 10) 18
Total: (all out; 90.1 overs) 287
Fall of wickets: 1-36, 2-77, 3-79, 4-92, 5-125, 6-209, 7-259, 8-271, 9-287, 10-287.
Bowling: A Nehra 29-4-105-5, I Sharma 27.1-6-79-3, R Bhatia 9-7-3-0, C Nanda 11-1-38-2, R L Sanghvi 14-1-54-0.
Delhi (2nd innings):
A Chopra not out 68
S Dhawan c Amir Khan b Singh 21
M Tehlan c Amir Khan b Kumar 19
M Manhas c Shukla b Singh 18
V Kohil not out 13.
Extras: (b 4, lb 7, nb 10, pen 5) 26
Total: (3 wickets; 48 overs) 165
To bat: R Bhatia, V Dahiya, C Nanda, A Nehra, RL Sanghvi, I Sharma
Fall of wickets: 1-38, 2-93, 3-131.
Bowling: R P Singh 15-2-39-2, S Srivastava 12-3-37-0, P Kumar 12-2-42-1, P Chawla 9-0-31-0.