By Sidhanta Patnaik
Chennai: Jan 20, 2012
As the second day of the 2011-2012 Ranji Trophy final between Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu commenced people started walking into the ground. A boy had got his girl friend on a date and the lady was excited for it was her first live experience of a cricket match in a stadium. The boy cashed on and put some extra effort in explaining her the game’s intricacies.
But soon they broke into a quarrel and by Tea were no more in talking terms. On a day when cricket was expected to put its mathematician hat on rather than the entertainer one it was a tactical blunder on the boy’s part and he must be now paying for it through a lengthened telephone bill. But what happened on the field today sets up the base for a calculative business end rather than a scenario for an outright win provided Tamil Nadu do not collapse in their first innings.
Rajasthan’s run rate dipped from 2.24 on Day 1 to 2.03 on Day 2 but make no mistake that their strangling hold over the match continues to exist. They have surely done their arithmetic right and are leaving no stone unturned to take advantage of it. No doubt Tamil Nadu bowled much better today and with their in-out field managed to stem down the run flow but with just two wickets to show effectively means that from here on if they have to win the game then it cannot be through the run rate formula. It has to be based on simple logic of first innings lead.
Rajasthan’s plan is to bat out more than half of 450 overs that can be bowled in this five day game. They have already played 180 overs. With eight wickets in hand they will try to up the antique in the next 50 overs and attempt to reach around 550 to 600 runs. That will give their bowlers more than 8 sessions to choke Tamil Nadu batsmen and force them to make errors against the run of play and give away their wickets.
With the pitch as slow as a tortoise the Rajasthan batsmen found it extremely difficult to score except for that brief period when Hrishikesh Kanitkar decided to use his feet against the spinners and rewarded himself with a few boundaries. The game moved on at a snail pace throughout the day and invited a few criticisms but their measured approach was the best solution under the given circumstances. In this context 31 year old Vineet Saxena’s innings has set the game up.
His unbeaten effort has now lasted for two entire days. It sums up to 747 minutes and 555 balls and has produced 207 runs. It provides enough resources to build a bridge from the Indian ocean to the Southern ocean for him to reach Adelaide in time for India’s upcoming Test match against Australia starting from 24th January onwards. Ironically the 21st batsman to score a double ton in 79 Ranji finals will not ever get a chance to represent the nation. Therefore this day will remain the pinnacle of his career. In a matter of two days he has manually escalated himself to a monumental status in the domestic circuit.
As the day was closing to end the crowd shouted, “Balaji, adutha over umpire ku kudu” asking Balaji to give the umpire a few overs to bowl. Jokes apart the onus is now on Murali Vijay, Abhinav Mukund, Subramanium Badrinath, Dinesh KarthiK, Kuthethurshri Vasudevadas and Ramaswamy Prasanna to make the occasion count and play the best innings of their lives for faith in hope to remain alive.
The pitch is expected to break, get slower and take turn but optimism has to somehow find its way into the Tamil Nadu dressing room. With quality stroke makers in their ranks it should not be much more than another 120 overs before the air gives an impression of whether or not it has changed its direction from Jaipur’s Hawa Mahal to Chennai’s Marina Beach.
(Sidhanta Patnaik is a sport marketing professional, public speaker and writes for Cricketcountry. His twitter id is @sidhpat)