Mumbai: Praveen Kumar did the star turn for Uttar Pradesh as he scalped eight Delhi first innings wickets to help his side gain the important first innings lead of 52 on the third day of the five-day Ranji Trophy final being played at the Wankhede stadium here on Friday.
Delhi, however, hit back at close of the third day with four quick wickets to leave Uttar Pradesh on 154/6 for a total lead of 206. Bhuvanesh Kumar with 19 and Amir Khan on 4 were at the crease when stumps were drawn.
Resuming on 196/4 and chasing Uttar Pradesh's first innings score of 342, Delhi batsmen once again found Praveen Kumar too tough to handle as he, with a lovely exhibition of swing bowling while using the second new ball, ran through the Delhi innings to give his side the lead. He finished with 8 for 68 to give his side a 52-run lead despite Rajat Bhatia's gritty unbeaten 139. Delhi were bowled out for 290.
Delhi started confidently with Akash Chopra and Rajat Bhatia adding 31 runs in the morning when the new ball was taken.
Praveen Kumar immediately provided the breakthro' when he sent one back in to strike Chopra's pad to catch him plumb in front.
Chopra had played a fabulous knock, steering Delhi out of trouble with an assured 102.
He also proved too hot for the lower-order batsmen. Puneet Bisht fell for a first-ball duck, shouldering arms to another inswinger, Narwal was done in by an around-the-stumps line and Praveen Kumar hastened the end by trapping Sangwan and Amit Bhandari with late inswingers.
Bhatia, the other centurion, was left stranded but he had played a stellar role in taking Delhi close to the UP total. He had taken painkillers to play in this final after injuring his left hand - a hairline fracture is suspected - and fought bravely for 323 minutes.
Batting for the second time, Uttar Pradesh lost first innings centurion Tanmay Srivastav for a duck, run out going for a non-existent single. However, India discard Suresh Raina propelled the Uttar Pradesh with an attacking 85 off just 95 balls with 11 hits to the fence and one six.
However, Delhi struck again towards the close of play with the left-arm seamer getting rid of Suresh Raina and captain Mohd. Kaif as UP lost four wickets in a span of eight overs as they collapsed from 123 for two to 130 for six to put the match in balance once again. Bhuvanesh Kumar and Amir Khan then played out the remainder of the day adding an unbeaten 24 runs for the seventh wicket.
Brief Scores (D-3):
UP 342&154/6 (Suresh Raina 85; Sangwan 2 for 41, Bhandari 1 for 28, Bhatia 1 for 14) Vs Delhi 290 all out (Rajat Bhatia 139, Akash Chopra 102; Praveen Kumar 8 for 68, Tyagi 2 for 63).