Mumbai: Hrishikesh Kanitkar played a captain`s knock as defending champions Rajasthan reached a commanding 309 for four against hosts Mumbai on the first day of the four-day Elite Group A Ranji Trophy match on Thursday.
The southpaw stroked powerfully off his back foot to score an unbeaten 129 off 227 balls with 17 hits to the fence on a placid Brabourne Stadium wicket.
Things would have looked bleaker for Mumbai, who are gunning for their 40th title, had not Rashmi Ranjan Parida departed on the third ball of the day`s last over for a well made 67 off 112 balls with 12 fours.
Medium pacer Dhawal Kulkarni grabbed couple of wickets but more importantly struck in the last over to break the fourth wicket stand of 137 between Kanitkar and Parida. The former Orissa batsman impressed with his cover and straight drives.
Earlier, Kanitkar had forged a stand of 77 runs for the 2nd wicket with Vineet Saxena, who made 53 off 114 balls with nine fours before falling to Kulkarni, and 61 for the 3rd wicket with Ashok Menaria (32), who played attractively before being dismissed by part-timer Suryakumar Yadav.
Mumbai used as many as nine bowlers on first day, a clear indication of the toothlessness in their attack as well as the benign quality of the wicket at the Brabourne Stadium.
Mumbai had an early success this morning when opener Aakash Chopra was trapped leg before by Murtuza Hussain for 19 in the 13th over.
Thereafter, Rajasthan batsmen took firm control of the proceedings with Saxena and Kanitkar first steadying the ship.
After the former had been bowled off pads soon after lunch, it was Kanitkar, who cut and drove square off the wicket on the off side to get a major portion of his runs, and Menaria who put on another half century stand to keep up the tempo.
Mumbai captain Wasim Jaffer kept ringing changes and his idea of bringing in Yadav to bowl his fast leg spin paid dividends as the left-handed Menaria drove one slightly up to short extra cover fielder Rohit Sharma to depart at 172.
This brought together Kanitkar and Parida who feasted on the wayward Mumbai attack on the good batting track almost till the end before Kulkarni got the important breakthrough with his third ball, a full length one, in the last over to send back the latter.
Brief scores: Rajasthan 309 for 4 in 89.3 overs (Vineet Saxena 53, Hrishikesh Kanitkar batting 129, Rashmi Parida 67; Dhawal Kulkarni 2 for 61) v Mumbai.