Rizwan Shamshad and Ravi Kant Shukla eked out fine half-centuries under pressure to give Ranji Trophy champions Uttar Pradesh a respectable score against Pakistan domestic champions Sialkot in the inaugural Mohammed Nissar Trophy match in Dharamsala on Wednesday.
Left-hander Ravi Kant's 54 and veteran Rizwan Shamshad's unbeaten 60 helped Uttar Pradesh close the day on 269 for seven in the first innings despite a shaky start after electing to bat at the HPCA stadium.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammed Amir Khan, on 23, was keeping Shamshad company at stumps on day one.
Ravi Kant, who was at his best, hitting six fours and a six, also stitched a 55-run partnership with Jyoti Yadav (15) for the fifth wicket to help the home team cross the 100-run mark.
"As the senior-most member of the team I had to take responsibility. The job is half done," Shamshad said after the day's play.
Piyush Chawla, fresh from a successful tour of Pakistan with the India under-19 team, also made a courageous 48 to lead Uttar Pradesh's early recovery after they were reduced to 94 for 4 by Sialkot, the Qaid-e-Azam title winners.
Chawla, who struck five hits to the fence and two over it, added valuable 79 runs with Rizwan Shamshad for the seventh wicket before falling to Tahir Mughal in the first over after tea.
Shamshad carried forward the good work along with Amir Khan in a vital eighth wicket partnership.
UP had a torrid time while facing the incisive seamers from Sialkot after stand-in skipper Suresh Raina elected to bat on a wicket that had a tinge of grass on it.
Raina led the side after Mohammed Kaif was declared unfit to play due to exhaustion.
But Raina's decision backfired as the home team lost wickets at regular intervals.
Banking on early morning moisture and the green top wicket, international Mohammed Asif troubled the UP batsmen with his accuracy and swing and tasted success in sixth over by trapping left-handed opener Shiva Kant Shukla before the stumps.
The UP team was trying to deal with the early blow when Asif struck again by sending back Raina at the team total of 23. The UP skipper was lured to play a slightly short of length ball that was leaving him and the left-hander gave a simple catch to Shoaib Malik at first slip.
However, Sialkot received a setback when Asif pulled a back muscle in the same over and left the ground without completing the over.
Opener Rohit Prakash, who had some jittery moments facing the new ball, kept his cool and after getting used to pitch played some fine shots. However, he was unfortunate to get out after settling down on the wicket that had some low bounce.
An in-swinging delivery from Mughal went in between Rohit's bat and the pads to clip the bails and end his courageous innings.
It turned out to be back-to-back shocks for UP as right-handed middle order bat Pravin Kumar gave a return catch to Sarfaraz Ahmed in the next over to invite more trouble for his side.
he lanky left-arm Sialkot seamer stretched to his left in a flash to take the spectacular catch and push UP on to backfoot.
For the visitors, Asif, Sarfaraz and Mughal claimed two wickets each.
Sialkot coach Azmat Rana said the players were exhausted because of the 14-hour bus journey to the venue and could not perform up to their potential.
"The 14-hour bus journey from Delhi to Dharamsala took its toll on the boys," he said.
The hectic and long travel to this hill station was also the reason of Kaif being unfit for the match. He is leaving for his home town in the evening today.
Uttar Pradesh (1st innings):
Rohit Prakash b Tahir Mughal 16
Shiva Kant Shukla lbw M Asif 1
Suresh Raina c S Malik b M Asif 5
Ravi Kant Shukla c Shahzad Malik b S Ahmed 54
Pravin Kumar c & b S Ahmed 2
Jyoti Yadav c I Nazir b A Rehman 15
Rizwan Shamsahd batting 60
Piyush Chawla c Shahzad Malik b T Mughal 48
M Amir Khan batting 23
Extras: (19-b, 17-lb, 8-nb, 1-w) 45
Total: (for seven wkts, in 90 overs) 269
Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-23, 3-50, 4-53, 5-104, 6-121, 7-200
Bowling: Mohd Asif 6.4-2-8-2, Sarfaraz Ahmed 26-7-48-2, Tahir Mughal 20.2-2-80-2, Sahid Yousuf 2-0-8-0, Abdul Rehman 24-5-66-1, Hafiz Mazid 2-1-4-0, Shoaib Malik 9-1-19-0.