Ranji Final: Rajasthan close in on Ranji title

Vadodara: Rajasthan are well on course for their maiden Ranji Trophy title after taking a vital first innings lead of 33 runs over Baroda and reaching 201 for four in their second essay at the end of the fourth day`s play here on Friday.

At stumps on the penultimate day`s play of the five-day match, Rajasthan had taken an overall lead of 234 runs over the home team with six wickets in hand.

Left-arm spinner Ashok Maneria, who had signed up with Rajasthan Royals for IPL IV earlier this week, celebrated the achievement with an unbeaten 83 and with Rashmi Parida (78 not) stitched an undefeated 140-run innings for the fifth wicket to guide the visitors past the 200-run mark in the second innings.

Earlier, resuming at 361 for eight, overnight batsmen Sankalp Vohra (34 not out) and Murtuja Vahora (36) carried on Rajasthan`s fightback and tried hard to surpass Baroda`s first innings total of 394 with a 68-run ninth wicket stand but to no avail.

Another Rajasthan Royals new recruit, Deepak Chahar (4/79) broke the dangerous-looking partnership, dismissing Vahora caught by Akash Chopra with Baroda still needing 38 runs to get past the visitors.

But it was not to be as five runs later off-spinner Madhur Khatri rounded off the proceedings for Rajasthan scalping last man Bhargav Bhatt caught by Chopra.

In their second innings, Rajasthan, however, had a terrible start as they lost their first three batsmen, including skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar for just 11 runs.

But Robin Bist and Parida steadied the ship with a 50-run stand and then Menaria joined hands with Parida to take Rajasthan into a safe position.

For Baroda, Vahora was the pick of the bowlers in the second innings with figures of two for 48, Vohra and Bhatt picked up a wicket each for 27 and 60 runs respectively.


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