Delhi bowlers took full advantage of the helpful conditions but their top-order frittered away the cushion on the opening day of their Group B Ranji Trophy match against Maharashtra in New Delhi on Saturday.
Seamer Sumit Narwal took three for 35 as the visitors were all out for 196 in 55.2 overs at the Roshanara Club Ground. Ankit Bawne top-scored with a 128-ball 58, laced with six fours.
In reply, Unmukt Chand's off-stump went cart-wheeling while skipper Shikhar Dhawan was needlessly run-out as Delhi were 59 for three at stumps.
With 134 runs still needed to get a first innings lead, the Delhi team knows that batting on a bouncy track with a lot of seam movement will be a challenging task. Delhi ideally wouldn't want to chase anything in excess of 120 in the fourth innings.
It will again depend on how well old guard Mithun Manhas bats along with other veteran Rajat Bhatia. Manhas had some anxious moments against the pacers but hung on admirably to end the day batting on 12.
Vaibhav Rawal was giving him company on 16.
With a 'green top' on offer, Delhi's new ball bowlers Pawan Suyal and Vikas Tokas got a bit carried away in the first six overs as they were striving for an extra yard of pace after Dhawan decided to field.
The openers Virag Awate and Harshad Khadiwale hit a few boundaries in that phase.
Skipper Dhawan rightly brought on his most experienced man Narwal, who immediately got into the act taking two wickets in three deliveries.
First Awate was clean bowled playing to a wrong line after scoring 10 while Sangram Atitkar was out for nought nicking one to Puneet Bisht.
Tokas also got a wicket as Khadiwale (15) saw his middle stump pegged back with Maharashtra tottering at 34 for three.
Soon it became 37 for four as skipper Rohit Motwani was caught in the gully off Narwal's bowling for one.
Bawne and Kedar Jadhav then added 38 runs for the fifth wicket before Jadhav, who was having a difficulty in coping with the pace and bounce, slashed one to Unmukt at gully. Chiragh Khurana (4) also did not last long as Maharashtra were left tottering at 83 for six.
Just when it looked like Delhi would get the minnows out for less than 120, Bawne and Shrikant Mundhe (42) got stuck into the home team bowling.
The ever-profligate Pradeep Sangwan went for a few runs as both Bawne and Mundhe hit 13 boundaries between themselves. The boundaries on either side were short and both batsmen repeatedly pierced the field during their 64-run partnership before Mundhe was run-out.
From 83 for six, the pair had taken the score to 147.
With tailenders Anupam Sanklecha and Samad Fallah getting a few runs, Maharashtra finally ended their innings at a position much better than what they were at lunch.
Brief scores: Maharashtra first innings: 192 in 55.2 overs (Ankit Bawne 58, Shrikant Mundhe 42; Sumit Narwal 3/35).
Delhi first innings: 59 for three in 29 overs (Vaibhav Rawal 16 batting, Mithun Manhas 12 batting; Samad Fallah 2/23).