Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir's poor run of form continued as the formidable Delhi batting line-up put up only 235 against Uttar Pradesh on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy group league match in Ghaziabad On Friday.
Sehwag, Gambhir, Virat Kohli and Unmukt Chand were all back in the pavilion even before lunch, much to the disappointment of the capacity 15,000 crowd that expected some fireworks from the India stars in the Group B match.
Sehwag scored 25 while Gambhir and Kohli contributed 32 and 14 respectively.
Unmukt, as usual, hit some lovely drives but did not go beyond an individual score of 28.
On a hazy day at the Nehru stadium, Uttar Pradesh's right-arm medium pacer Imtiaz Ahmed bowled to a disciplined line as the much vaunted Delhi line-up could not make an impact.
Imtiaz grabbed five for 59 while out of favour seamer Praveen Kumar did his cause no harm by taking three wickets for 56 runs.
Delhi's first innings lasted only 65.2 over. The highlight was 86 runs added for the fifth wicket by Mithun Manhas and Punit Bisht.
Bisht top-scored with 52 while Manhas got out after scoring 42. Delhi lost their last six wickets for 43 runs in 11.1 overs as Imtiaz took four in the post-lunch session.
Sehwag and Gambhir again flattered to deceive, unable to put up a significant partnership that would have given them requisite confidence before the Test series against England.
There was nothing much in the 22-yard strip, but poor shot selection is something that Sehwag and Gambhir should be especially worried about.
Sehwag, in fact, got a reprieve on 14 when rival skipper Suresh Raina dropped him at second slip off Bhuvneshwar Kumar's delivery, but did not cash in on the opportunity.
Sehwag got his first boundary in the eighth over but was gone in the 13th when he tried to push a Praveen delivery only to offer a simple catch to glovesman Amir Khan. Sehwag hit four boundaries in his 25 runs and lasted 45 balls. The openers got 39 runs for the first wicket.
Gambhir did hit some crisp drives and a couple of good ones off left-arm spinner Ali Murtaza but threw away his wicket just when he had done the initial hard work.
Imtiaz got one to hold its line as the left-hander shouldered arms and was adjudged leg before.
Kohli has been in sublime form of late and was lustily cheered by the crowd as he hit a couple of boundaries.
However, Bhuvneshwar bowled one around the three-quarter region as Kohli was not fully forward to the pitch of the delivery. The resultant jab was taken by Mohammad Kaif at first slip.
Unmukt used his feet brilliantly against the spinners but his impetuosity cost him dear as he tried to be over-aggressive.
Against Murtaza, he danced down the track but his powerful flick shot hit the pads of the forward short-leg fielder Parvinder Singh and ballooned up which was taken by Mukul Dagar standing at silly-point.
At 106 for four, Delhi had lost all their star players before the lunch session.
Punit and Manhas, however, counter-attacked the UP bowlers. While pint-sized Punit hit the bowlers on the rise, Manhas's couple of late cuts were a treat to watch. At 192 for four, just when it looked like Delhi were staging a recovery, Manhas paid the price for an expansive drive only to edge one to Amit behind the stumps off Imtiaz.
Bist completed his 50 with a lovely drive but the bowler again kept it in the good length region to induce an outside edge to UP skipper Raina at second slip. The youngster from Benaras bowled accurately as he got his five-for removing Pradeep Sangwan and Ashish Nehra.
Praveen then polished off the tail.
At stumps, UP were 40 for one, Ishant Sharma having dismissed Tanmay Srivastava.