Ranji Trophy final: Saxena ton puts Rajasthan in command on day one

Rajasthan openers stitched an unbeaten partnership of 221 runs on day one of the Ranji Trophy final in Chennai

By R Eswar

Chennai: Jan 19, 2012

Openers Aakash Chopra and Vineet Saxena showed loads of patience on a placid strip as Rajasthan walked away with the honours on the opening day of their Ranji Trophy final against Tamil Nadu on Thursday.

At stumps, Rajasthan opting to bat, were 221 for no loss with Saxena batting on 120 in company of Chopra who scored a dogged 86.

Interestingly, it was same opening pair that has frustrated Tamil Nadu during the semi-finals in Jaipur last year when they added 181 for the first wicket. They have already bettered their earlier effort.

With 22-yard at Chepauk offering nothing much for the bowlers, Rajasthan who boasts of domestic heavyweights like Hrishikesh Kanitkar, Rashmi Ranjan Parida and Robin Bist would certainly look to put up a total in excess of 550.

The gameplan for the past two seasons have been simple for both Saxena and Chopra. They have a risk-free approach towards batting. Both showed enormous patience as they waited for the loose deliveries and never really played any shots that involved risk.

If the lifeless track helped their cause but one can’t take away any credit from the duo who had to toil hard in humid conditions.

Chopra, who had left almost anything and everything outside the off-stump had faced 273 deliveries hitting nine fours while Saxena played 269 balls hitting 16 boundaries in the process.

Tamil Nadu skipper Laxmipathy Balaji tried every sort of bowling change that he could have made using as many as eight of them without much luck.

Chopra clipped Balaji to square leg fence for couple of boundaries. When Saxena’s turn came, he too showed his intentions clear driving Balaji to onside fence.

The former India Test opener showed lot of grit when he refused to leave the pitch after being hit below his left eye when Kaushik dug one short. Instead he got a bit of first-aid and continued to defy the Tamil Nadu attack.

While the trio of Balaji, Kaushik and V Yomahesh bowled 14 out of 25 maiden overs bowled today but their deliveries didn’t do much after pitching. In the whole day, the Rajasthan openers were only beaten four times.

Considering the slow nature of the pitch, left-arm spinner R Aushik Srinivas (30-11-55-0) and off-break bowler Sunny Gupta (13-1-40-0) bowled 43 overs among themselves without much success. Srinivas’ defensive approach was also a bit baffling as he never consistently bowled to a flatter trajectory not giving too much air.

Gupta also didn’t get much turn and bounce from the track and it made their jobs easier. So intent was Chopra on blocking everything that at times, he couldn’t get the full-tosses away.

Saxena completed his 10th first-class century and without any doubt the most significant of them when he got a boundary through mid-wicket region. The entire Rajasthan dressing room gave him a standing ovation. He played a couple of attractive shots once he reached his century including a square cut off Mahesh.(PTI)

Brief Score: Rajasthan 221 for no loss (Vineet Saxena 120*, Aakash Chopra 86*) vs Tamil Nadu