Chennai: Opener Vineet Saxena scored an unbeaten century and fellow opening partner Aakash Chopra remained unconquered on the brink of a ton as Rajasthan dominated the first day of the Ranji Trophy final against hosts Tamil Nadu at MA Chidambaram Stadium on Thursday.
Saxena, who remained unbeaten on 120, scored a fluent century to lift Rajasthan on Day 1 of the Ranji Trophy.
Saxena’s disciplined hundred came off 237 balls with 13 hits to the fence.
At the stumps on Day 1, Rajasthan were 221/0 with Chopra remaining not out on a solid 86.
He, along with fellow opener Aakash Chopra, demoralized the Tamil Nadu bowling throughout the whole day and stitched a double century stand in the process.
Their unbeaten 221-run stand was Rajasthan’s highest opening partnership ever, bettering the previous best of 202 put on by Vijendra Yadav and Gagan Khoda way back in January 1994 in Lucknow against Uttar Pradesh.
They went ahead with their job in a very old-school way, tiring the bowlers with solid defence and sound temperament. Their batting was a lesson to the upcoming cricketers who want to succeed in Tests.
Chopra, who played a crucial role in India’s series-drawing campaign back in 2003-04 Australian tour, showed his former Delhi mates, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, who were struggling Down Under, how to go about the job of opening the innings in Tests.
Chopra, who despite suffering a blow on his left eye, refused to throw away his wicket.
The seasoned campaigner showed a lot of grits and character throughout the whole day after the injury off paceman J Kaushik.
Chopra got an able ally in Vineet Saxena, who like him, knows the value of grinding rather than going flashy. They might not have played attractive cricket. But they did the job for their team with typical Test-match style knocks.
Tamil Nadu skipper L Balaji used as many as seven bowlers but failed to get a breakthrough.
Earlier in the day, Chopra and Saxena gave title holder Rajasthan a sound start on the Day 1 of the Ranji Trophy final against Tamil Nadu after their captain Hrishikesh Kanitkar won the toss and decided to bat first on a good Chennai wicket.
At lunch, Rajasthan were 89/0 with Saxena and Chopra remaining unbeaten on 51 and 36, respectively.
Saxena was more aggressive of the two, reaching his half-century off 94 balls with 6 fours.
Chopra also completed his half-century as Rajasthan built their innings strongly on a sound opening stand.
Chopra, who was extra-cautious throughout his innings, took 168 balls to reach his fifty when hit Yo Mahesh for a boundary through mid-off.
Rajasthan: A Chopra, VA Saxena, HH Kanitkar*, R Bist, RR Parida, Puneet Yadav, DH Yagnik†, RR Singh, G Singh, Pankaj Singh, SO Mathur.
Tamil Nadu: A Mukund, M Vijay, S Badrinath, KD Karthik†, K Vasudevadas, R Prasanna, Sunny Gupta, VY Mahesh, L Balaji*, J Kaushik, R Aushik Srinivas