S. Badrinath's exasperation and his absence from the presentation showed his hurt. His teammates' impatience had handed Rajasthan a place in the final, and denied him a possibility of signing off a good season on a high note.
Besides pride and runs Badrinath has a lot more at stake. A place in the Indian middle-order might be his when the legends call it quits. Till then, he has been proving in every Ranji match this season.
On Thursday, he carried the bat remaining unconquered on 175, but his mates failed him at crucial junctures. Tamil Nadu needed 273 in 90 overs to make the final on run rate.
Deepak Chahar, a newcomer who has made waves this season with large deviations off the air and seam, was running in like a man possessed. Not even a slight niggle in the toe could stop him. "Today, I would have played even with a broken arm."
The gritty Badri off all dangers. There were no distractions, not even constant chatter in the slips with Aakash Chopra leading the gang, could deter him. He judged the length well.
There was luck but then, it only follows the brave. Once he charged down the wicket against leggie Vivek Yadav but keeper Rohit Jalani messed it up. TN stayed in the hunt.
They had lost K. Vasudevadas early, who misjudged the length and played on to his stumps. There was nothing in it in the last session. Three wickets, 100 runs and 32 overs. Rajasthan skipper, Hrishikesh Kanitkar brought in leggie Yadav. The calculated risk paid off. A rush of blood made Balaji go for the slog sweep. He missed the line and was out leg before.
Brief Scores: Rajasthan 552/7 decl (A. Chopra 139, H. Kanitkar 100 n.o., A. Menaria 106). Tamil Nadu 385 (S. Badrinath 175 n.o., V Yadav 4/87, P. Singh 2/112, S. Mathur 2/84). Rajasthan entered the final on the basis of first-innings lead.