Jaipur: Resolute half centuries from Vineet Saxena and skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar propelled defending champions Rajasthan to 209 for three on the opening day of their Ranji Trophy Elite division match against Orissa at the Sawai Man Singh stadium on Wednesday.
Put into bat by the visitors on a wicket which had a tinge of green, Rajasthan lost former India opener Aakash Chopra (7) in the eighth over of the day before Saxena (74) and Kanitkar (64) combined together to add valuable 149 runs for the second wicket.
However, the fall of both well-set batsman in quick succession came as welcome relief for the Orissa bowlers, who otherwise had to toil hard for rewards.
Saxena, who hit a fine hundred in the previous match against Saurashtra, continued the good work to notch up yet another half-century that was laced with eight hits to the fence, while Kanitkar looked at ease during his 178-ball stay at the crease before Biplab Samantray accounted for his wicket in the Group A match.
Saxena followed suit a few balls later as Alok Mangaraj got through his defense to leave the hosts at 158 for three.
Rajasthan, who are chasing a big victory to keep their hopes of a knockout berth alive, were at that stage not very comfortably placed, but Robin Bisht (24) and Rashmi Ranjan Parida (25) batted sensibly to help them to a respectable position at the the draw of stumps.
For the visitors Deepak Behera, Mangaraj and Samantray shared a wicket each.
Rajasthan first innings: 209 for three in 90 overs (Vineet Saxena 74, Hrishikesh Kanitkar 64; Mangaraj 1/27).