A sparkling century by young Shivakant Shukla and his 190-run unbeaten fourth-wicket stand with Parvinder Singh helped Uttar Pradesh give a befitting reply to Tamil Nadu's first innings total of 445 on the penultimate day of their four-day Ranji Trophy semifinal here on Tuesday.
The left and right pair rescued last year's runners-up Uttar Pradesh from collapsing in a heap after their key batsmen Suresh Raina and Mohd Kaif fell cheaply in the morning. UP finished the day at a strong 253/3 but still need 193 more runs to take the all-important first innings lead. Things started brightly for UP in the morning and Raina seemed in blistering form -- as was evident by the five boundaries he slammed in the very first hour of the day, four off which were taken off Laxmipathy Balaji.
Balaji, however, bounced back and turned the tables when he first uprooted Raina's middle-stump with a lovely inswinger, and then send skipper Mohd. Kaif packing for a duck.
UP were reeling at 63 for three when Shukla and Parvinder decided to dig in and repel. The duo was unglamorous but effective, picking regular ones and twos with occasional boundaries. With the sun shining brightly and the wicket getting more docile, TN bowlers struggled in the second and third sessions as Shukla and Parvinder picked up runs with consummate ease.
Shukla handled Balaji with aplomb while Parvinder put TN spinners C Suresh, R Ashwin and S Suresh to the sword, cutting, pulling and driving with authority, Shukla's superb 103 came off 324 and he struck 15 fours while Parvinder consumed 234 balls to reach a career-best 93.