Ranji Trophy final: Rajasthan on course for second successive title
Feroz Khan/Zeenews Sports
Chennai: Rajasthan have all but sealed the fate in their favour by taking a huge first innings lead of 347 runs at stumps on Day 4 of the finals of the Ranji Trophy championship on Sunday.
Rituraj Singh was the pick of the bowlers for Rajasthan as he claimed four wickets in 26 overs. Pankaj Singh and SO Mathur snapped two wickets apiece with Ganjendra taking one as Tamil Nadu were dismissed for 295 runs in their first innings. At stumps Rajasthan were 21 for no loss.
The overnight pair of Dinesh Karthik and K Vasudevadas had fended off the last session successfully on the third day to deny Rajasthan any further inroads in addition to the three quick wickets the visitors had snapped early in the innings.
However, it took only three overs in the morning for the hosts to let their guards down when they lost the wicket of K Vasudevadas (25) in the third over as he was caught by Gajendra Singh off the bowling of RR Singh.
R Prasnna was the second wicket to fall on the day and fifth overall for Tamil Nadu as a result of a misjudged single when Dinesh Karthik called him after playing one towards mid-on. The throw from Rituraj missed the stumps at non-striker’s end and ended up at the keeper’s end. Wicketkeeper Yagnik spared no time dislodging the bails and Prasanna had to walk back after third umpire ruled him out.
From there onwards, Tamil Nadu batsmen kept on visiting the middle, one after another, only to play careless shots and throw their wickets away.
Gajendra Singh got his first scalp of the match just after the lunch break tricking Sunny Gupta to charge down the track. Gupta missed the delivery to be stumped by Yagnik. He scored six runs.
Yo Mahesh was the next to go as he was trapped lbw by Pankaj Singh who claimed his second wicket of the innings leaving Tamil Nadu 167/7.
Amid the rubbles there was an exception. Dinesh Karthik played a patient innings to keep the ship sailing. The batsman’s approach was a perfect example for the others as he stitched up an innings that showed the importance of occupying the crease and playing the waiting game against a mammoth Rajasthan’s total of 621 runs.
Amid the tumbling of wickets, Karthik, throughout his inning, didn’t let go of an opportunity to score runs, hitting boundaries and scoring at a brisk pace as compared to the Rajasthan batting lineup.
The centurion was part of the top four partnerships for the hosts forging with Prasanna (76), Kaushik (65), Balaji (60) and Vasudevadas (47).
Captain Balaji (29) had joined hands with Karthik to provide some stability to the innings that seemed falling like nine pins. He, however, was unfortunate to have been given out lbw when he edged one onto his pads. The disappointment was evident from his expression after the umpire had raised his finger.
Karthik was the ninth wicket to fall and he departed after scoring 150 in 280 balls that included 21 hits to the boundary and a six towards long on.
Jagannathan Kaushik (6) was the last man to be dismissed off the bowling of Sumit Mathur who claimed his second wicket of the innings.
Rajasthan thus took a lead of 326 runs but their captain, Hrishikesh Kanitkar refused to enforce follow on and the visitor’s took the field to play out the remaining overs of the evening.