Chennai: Rajasthan batsmen, led by opener Vineet Saxena, helped the team post a mammoth total before the bowlers removed the Tamil Nadu top-order to brighten visitors' chances of winning the Ranji Trophy title for the second consecutive time at Chepauk on Saturday.
At stumps on Day 3 of the final, Tamil Nadu were struggling at 66/3 in reply to Rajasthan’s 621.
The hero of the semi-final, pace bowler Raturaj Singh, picked up two wickets while lanky pacer Pankaj Singh captured one to give Rajasthan enough chance of bowling out Tamil Nadu and taking first innings lead which would help them win the back-to-back Ranji Trophy titles.
Earlier, Vineet Saxena, who has been batting since the match started on Thursday, scored 257 off 665 balls.
Vineet, in the process, became the second highest individual scorer for Rajasthan. He could have become the highest scorer as well had he surpassed Aakash Chopra’s unbeaten 301.
Had Saxena hit a triple century, he would have been only the second man in the history to post 300 or more in the Ranji final.
The only player to hit a triple century in the Ranji final was Gul Mohammad of Baroda. He achieved the feat in 1946-47 Ranji final against Holkar. In the same match Vijay Hazare also scored 288.
Saxena also became the second highest scorer of the ongoing Ranji Trophy with 884 runs.
After having batted almost two and a half days, Saxena finally got out for 257. His 665-ball marathon knock was laced with 26 fours and 2 sixes.
Left-arm spinner Aushik Srinivas, who toiled hard for 85 overs, rattled his off-stump with a perfect delivery.
Meanwhile, Robin Bist also reached his fifty off 146 balls with 9 fours.
Sunny Gupta cut short his stay in the middle, removing him for 57, made off 159 balls with 9 boundaries.
Bist consolidated his position as the most run-getter of the current Ranji Trophy season with 942 runs.
After Saxena’s wicket, Rajasthan lost two more wickets in quick succession. First, they lost Puneet Yadav for 7. Immediately after his departure, wicketkeeper-batsman Dishant Yagnik went for a duck.
Tamil Nadu bowlers consumed two more Rajasthan batsmen. Rashmi Ranjan Parida departed for 40 after Pankaj Singh went for 22.
Paceman J Kaushik took three wickets in the end to end Tamil Nadu’s agony and finally bowled the visitors out for 621.
Aushik Srinivas was the most successful bowler as he captured 4 wickets giving away 192 runs from his 85 overs of bowling.
Had he bowled 12 more overs he would have created a record for bowling most number of overs in an innings.
After posting a huge 621, Rajasthan pushed back Tamil Nadu further by picking up two quick wickets.
Rituraj Singh removed in-form Abhinav Mukund for a duck in the second over while Pankaj Singh sent domestic giant S Badrinath for 6.
Rituraj Singh struck again for Rajasthan as he removed Murali Vijay for 15.