No rest for Ranji champs
Dhawan and Rahane hit centuries, make Rajasthan toil on a lopsided Day One of the contest.cricket Updated: Oct 02, 2011 00:05 IST
Despite a green Sawai Mansingh Stadium pitch, experts were skeptical whether it would offer the seamers much help as the Irani Cup
Game between Ranji champions Rajasthan and Rest of India began. And Rest skipper Parthiv Patel was also not swayed by the grass on the track, electing to bat on winning the toss.
The decision proved right in the first session itself before Rest of India piled on the runs and finished the day on 400 for three, putting the hosts under pressure.
Delhi opener Shikhar Dhawan and Mumbai's Ajinkya Rahane, fresh from his impressive ODI showing in England, scored centuries against a hapless Rajasthan bowling attack.
The left-handed Dhawan said he didn't want to change his aggressive playing style despite being dropped after a bad limited-overs series in West Indies earlier this year.
The 25-year-old in particular never made one feel batting was difficult. He cracked four consecutive boundaries in the fifth over by Deepak Chahar, who pitched it short.
Those shots indicated what was in store for the Ranji champion as Dhawan and Abhinav Mukund put on 77 for the opening wicket before the Tamil Nadu batsman played on against Sumit Mathur in the 18th over.
In came Rahane, who looked calm while his partner made the opposition panic with his blistering strokeplay, getting his half-century in just 51 balls. Chahar, who had played a big role in Rajasthan's Ranji triumph, let his team down further when he dropped Dhawan's top-edge to long leg on 80.
Dhawan completed his 11th first class hundred after lunch while Rahane looked set to reach his 18th. Dhawan raced from 100 to 150 in 33 balls. He was eventually bowled by off spinner Madhur Khatri, who got one past his defence to end a second wicket stand of 190 runs.
Dhawan, who had a good Emerging Players tournament in Australia, was still disppointed. "I should have carried on and got a double hundred."
Although Manish Pandey was out leg before to debutant left-arm pacer Aniket Choudhary, Rahane mixed caution with aggression to take his team past 350 and reach his century, watched by national selectors Mohinder Amarnath and Raja Venkat.
"It is a very important knock for me as this performance will be counted while picking a Test team," he said.
Rahane was unbeaten on 117 (212 balls, 12x4, 1x6) and skipper Parthiv Patel was batting on 55 - the unbroken partnership worth 113 runs - when the forgettable day for Rajasthan ended.
Chahar was the most expensive, returning 120 for no wicket as skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar blamed his bowlers for not cashing in on a helpful wicket.