Visitors Tamil Nadu erred on reading the Feroz Shah Kotla track and rued their decision to field on a flat deck after Delhi openers Unmukt Chand and Shikhar Dhawan punished Laxmipathy Balaji's men with centuries to lead Delhi to 287 for 1 at stumps on Day 1 of the fourth-round Ranji Trophy match.
The sun didn't take long to bake the track and ease it out for the Delhi openers who, after checking for any movement, played strokes at will to complete a century stand before lunch and then went on to complete respective tons. Dhawan was the only wicket to fall in the day, dismissed just before tea for 104. Chand (134*) and Mohit Sharma (40*) then played out the entire last session to keep TN at bay.
Dhawan was off to a confident start even as Chand edged around for a while. Still, the first 12 overs produced just 28 runs. Balaji and J Kaushik - opening the bowling - kept a tight leash in the first hour that produced 34 runs. But offspinner Rangarajan's introduction after the first drinks break opened the flood gates.
Tamil Nadu's decision to field backfired as centuries by the Delhi openers helped them post 287 for 1 on the opening day at Kotla.
TN's most successful bowler so far, Rangarajan was treated with disdain by the Delhi openers. Dhawan didn't allow him to settle, picking up two boundaries in his first six balls. By then, Chand too had the measure of the bounce and little movement off the track. His three fours in one Balaji over - an on-drive, cover drive and a cut - got him going and posted Delhi's 50 in 20 overs.
Dhawan reached his half century but was lucky to be there when he was dropped in the over before lunch - his edge off Aushik going between wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik and first slip. The last ball before the break was dispatched for a boundary by Dhawan to take Delhi to lunch at 100 for no loss.
Dhawan came out dealing in boundaries after the break, racing from 55 to 79 in the first half an hour that also saw Chand registering fifty. Chand became distinctively fluid after that, hitting Aushik for the first six off the match over long-off.
The first century of this season for Dhawan didn't take long to come as he waved his bat jogging for single to long-on off the 165th ball he faced. The 200-run opening stand followed, and so did the first success of the day for TN.
Dhawan went back to cut a ball that wasn't short and on the stumps. He missed and Aushik was seen celebrating the wicket. Delhi 205 for 1. But it didn't perturb Chand in the 90s as an on-driven four off Yo Mahesh brought up his second first-class century. That was also tea at 211 for 1, with 111 runs coming in the session in 28 overs.
There was a quiet start to the final session, with Balaji peppering the batsmen with short stuff until the shackles were broken by Chand with the day's second six - again over long-off to Aushik. Kaushik, brought back into the attack after tea nearly got TN their second wicket but the ball again went through the gap between wicketkeeper Karthik and first slip - giving Sharma a life when he was on 32.
Rangarajan's return to the crease remained futile as TN's chief wicket-taking hope ended the day with disappointing figures of 0 for 57 in 12 overs before umpire declared bad light and the players walked off with 10 overs to 90.
TN captain Balaji remained wicketless in a 13-over spell, giving away 50 runs. The only wicket-taker of the day, Aushik, had figures of 1 for 66 in 18 overs.