Ghaziabad: Mukul Dagar's maiden century and Mohammad Kaif's patient 91 helped Uttar Pradesh take the first innings lead against Delhi on day two of their Ranji Trophy encounter here on Saturday.
Dagar, playing only his second first class match, displayed his array of strokes in his 214-ball 116. He and Kaif started the proceedings for the hosts Saturday morning and showed positive intent straight away, rotating the strike initially and punishing anything loose on offer once they got their eyes in. The two batsmen shared 195 runs for the second wicket.
"Since the pitch was offering assistance to the pacers in the morning, our plan was to play cautiously in the first hour of play and then try to play our shots," Dagar said after the day's play. "I told myself to leave everything wide outside the off stump and hit to deliveries that were straight. And the plan worked for me," he added.
While the first session definitely belonged to the hosts, scoring 112 runs without losing any wicket, Delhi got both the batsmen in the second, with 93 runs coming off it. Sumit Narwal made further inroads in the last session, picking up the wickets of Parvinder Singh (20) and Arish Alam (1). "The wicket got easy to bat on in the second session and Kaif and I made full use of it," Dagar added, "Our main aim tomorrow morning will be to stretch our lead as much as we can. As Raina had already spent some time in the middle today, it would be important for us that he goes on to make a good score."
UP were 292 for 6 at the close of play, leading Delhi by 57 runs. Captain Suresh Raina (19) and wicketkeeper batsman Amir Khan (4) were at the crease when play was stopped prematurely with seven overs still to go.
Delhi coach Vijay Dahiya although accepted that the bowlers were on the shorter side in the first session, he was satisfied the way they came back in the last session. "We were a little wayward in the opening session, but the lads made a good comeback in the final period of play. We will try to bowl them out as early as possible tomorrow," he said.
UP started the day on 40 for 1 and Ishant Sharma tried to unsettle Kaif with a barrage of short balls. One such ball hit the former India batsman on the helmet and he waved to the physio to come straight away. After seeing off the inspired spell from Ishant early on, both batsmen grew in confidence, reaching their half-centuries and taking their team to safety at lunch.
Dagar, who was unbeaten on 61 at lunch, was the aggressor between the two after the break, scoring freely and getting to his three-figure mark in as many balls. Kaif too looked good for another milestone before he misread the length of Vikas Mishra, the left-arm spinner, and was trapped lbw. Dagar didn't last long too and lost his off stump to Narwal. The hosts went into tea at 245 for 3.
Narwal continued his impressive spell after the break, getting Singh and Alam out cheaply. Ishant also troubled Raina, who missed anything that was pitched up and outside the off stump. Bhuvneshwar Kumar made just five before getting caught behind off Ishant. But the UP captain, unlike other middle order batsmen, did not throw his wicket away and ensured that the team did not lose any more wickets before the close of play.