Rohtak: The 22-yard strip at the Bansi Lal Stadium in Lahli turned out to be a minefield for both Rajasthan and Haryana batsmen as 18 wickets fell on the first day of the Ranji Trophy semi-final.
If young Harshal Patel`s eight for 34 saw Rajasthan being skittled out for 89, the defending champions had another youngster in Rituraj Singh who took five for 36 to reduce the hosts to 82 for eight at stumps on first day.
The Bansi Lal Stadium track has always assisted the seamers especially at this time of the year.
It was a track which needed quality technique and lot of application to survive. Unfortunately, batsmen from both sides didn`t have a clue against the ball that jagged around throughout the day.
Such has been the dominance of the bowlers, that only Rajasthan opener Vineet Saxena (32) and Haryana`s lower-order batsman Jayant Yadav (23) had scores of over 20.
In the morning, Haryana captain Amit Mishra`s decision tofield first was vindicated by young Patel, who showed that his eight-wicket haul against Karnataka, in the quarter-final was no fluke.
To his credit he pitched the ball in the right areas at a brisk pace which helped him a lot. He got the ball to move both ways. He knocked the stuffing out of Rajasthan as he got all their four top batsmen. Aakash Chopra (4) and Rashmi Ranjan Parida (1) were dismissed by outgoing deliveries.
Patel got opposition skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar (4) with a delivery that was angled across while in-form Robin Bist (0) got one that came in sharply.
Rajasthan`s young right-arm seamer Rituraj also bowled outswingers as he quickly got rid of dependable opening duo of Nitin Saini and Rahul Dewan quickly to get his team back on track.
From the other end, veteran Pankaj Singh knocked out experienced Sunny Singh and Sachin Rana to bring Rajasthan right back in the match. As of now, an outright result is very much on cards as a slender first-innings lead by either of teams would be of little consequence.