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Heading towards a thrilling finish

cricket Updated: Jan 12, 2012 01:35 IST
Shalabh Manocha
Shalabh Manocha
Hindustan Times
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Rajasthan batsmen didn’t learn from their mistakes in the first innings, and despite their bowlers bringing them back into contention, the defending champions lost wickets in a heap in the final session on the second day of the semifinal against hosts Haryana on Wednesday.

As a result they were dismissed for 192 in the second innings, leaving Haryana a modest target of 185 to win with two full days to spare. However, their bowlers led the fightback again in the last half hour to pick up two Haryana wickets for 15 runs to set up an interesting finish on Day Three. In chilly weather and conditions favouring the bowlers, Rajasthan openers started cautiously and wiped out the 8-run first innings lead. In the 14th over, however, opener Aakash Chopra played a Sachin Rana delivery onto the stumps.

At 56 for one at lunch, Rajasthan’s task was to build on the platform but soon after the break skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar was caught at square leg off Harshal Patel, with Yuzvendra Chahal leaping to his right to complete the catch. Kanitkar had got a life the previous delivery when he was dropped by Rana at gully but failed to cash in.

The in-form Robin Bist and Vineet Saxena tried to consolidate, the latter played some fine shots along the ground to reach his half-century. But both were out before tea. First, a mix-up led to Saxena's run out and then Bist, who played some exquisite shots, edged Patel to Rana at second slip. After tea, Rana trapped Puneet Yadav in front and in the next over, Rashmi Ranjan Parida, dropped on 17 by wicket keeper Nitin Saini, was trapped leg before by Haryana leg spinner and skipper Amit Mishra.

The champions lacked application as the last six wickets went down in the space of 9 overs for the addition of 18 runs. Rana scalped four. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/12-01-12-metro20b.jpg

Rajasthan opener Saxena, the only batsman to score a half-century in the game, feels the match will go down to the wire because of the unpredictable nature of the wicket. "It is a sort of a track where you never feel set and the bounce is becoming unpredictable. It will make it difficult for new batsmen."

Rajasthan pacer Rituraj Singh took the last two Haryana wickets to finish with seven wickets as the hosts were dismissed for 97 in the morning.