Stand-in captain Ambati Rayudu led from the front with an impressive half-century as Baroda ended the first day's play at a comfortable 252 for three against Delhi [ Images ] in the third round Ranji Trophy Group B encounter in New Delhi, on Saturday.
Put into bat, Baroda rode on Rayudu's undefeated 83 and his unbroken stand of 143 runs for the fourth wicket with Abhimanyu Chauhan, who was not out on 82.
Rayudu's 146-ball knock contained 13 hits to the fence while Chauhan continued his good form having scored a century against Vidarbha in the last game.
The 25-year-old Chauhan played for more than four and half hours facing 196 balls and hitting 13 boundaries in the process.
Delhi captain Shikhar Dhawan [ Images ] elected to field and Baroda's left-handed openers Aditya Waghmode and debutant Saurabh Wakaskar saw off the initial spells from Ashish Nehra [ Images ] and Parvinder Awana.
The pitch had nothing for the bowlers as both Parwinder Awana and Ashish Nehra were seen bending their backs trying to extract a bit of bounce from the 22-yard strip. There were times when Awana's bouncers were collected by glovesman Punit Bisht on second bounce, increasing the agony of home team skipper Dhawan. Wakaskar, who had replaced Yusuf Pathan [ Images ] in the line-up started safely as the opening pair added 46 runs for the first wicket.
Nehra, who bowled a six-over spell for 17 runs went off the field and didn't come back till the end of the day after struggling with some injury. He has already been out for more than four hours and is unlikely to bowl again in this match.
Nehra's absence meant that Rajat Bhatia in his first match of the season had to again bowl a lot of overs. The old workhorse had the best figures for the home team (13-6-20-2).
It was seamer Sumit Narwal, who got the first wicket when he bowled a bouncer which forced Wakaskar to go for a pull-shot. But he mistimed it and the ball ballooned up which was easily grabbed by Awana at square leg.
Waghmode was then joined by Chauhan and the duo played with utmost caution during their 55-run partnership.
Waghmode left most of the deliveries outside the off-stump but punished the loose balls. Chauhan, on the otherhand, flicked and drove anything that was bowled on his pads.
Waghmode completed a well-deserved half century just after lunch and celebrated that with a punchy cover drive off Bhatia.
However Delhi's ever-dependable all-rounder had the last laugh when Waghmode edged one to the slips which was brilliantly caught by Mohit Sharma diving to his right. The diminutive left-hander scored 54 off 105 balls with seven boundaries. From 101 for one, Baroda had a mini slump as they were reduced to 109 for three with Rakesh Solanki (0) also fishing a Bhatia delivery outside off-stump as Mohit took his second catch of the day.
Rayudu was a bit circumspect to begin with but with younger partner Chauhan growing in confidence, the stand-in skipper also started opening up with a beautiful cover drive off Awana and then he hit a wide array of strokes.
With left-arm spinner Sharma's bowling lacking bite, Rayudu time and again came out of the crease to loft him straight.
Suddenly, the former India [ Images ] Under-19 captain started matching Chauhan stroke for stroke and soon surpassed his younger partner.
Unless Delhi take a few quick wickets on Day 2, Baroda are well on their way to posting a big first innings total.
Baroda 1st innings 252/3 (A Rayudu 83 not out, A Chauhan 82 not out, Aditya Waghmod 54, Rajat Bhatia 2/20).