On the eve of the Ranji Trophy semifinal against Haryana, Rajasthan skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar had said that it would be an interesting match. It turned out to be one as 18 wickets fell, with Haryana medium pacer Harshal Patel scything through the rival batting line-up, snaring eight wickets for 34 runs and bundling out Rajasthan for 89 in 36.1 overs.
At stumps, Haryana too found themselves in a similar situation after being reduced to 82 for 8.
But the day belonged to Patel who broke his record of 8 for 40 on way to the second-best spell in the Ranji Trophy after Joginder Sharma's 8 for 24 against Vidarbha in 2004-05.
Haryana won the toss in bowler-friendly conditions and opted to field. The decision proved right, as in the sixth over, Patel got Akash Chopra to nick one to wicketkeeper Nitin Saini. Chopra's act was followed by Kantikar six overs later.
Patel scalped the first two wickets pitching the ball on the seam and in the right areas, with the ball doing the rest. In his next over, he trapped the highest run-getter this season, Robin Bist, in front of the wicket for a duck.
At the other end, opener Vineet Saxena played and missed but carried on. Rashmi Parida was dismissed behind the wickets by medium pacer Mohit Sharma.
Patel, who bowled 12 overs on the trot, then bowled Puneet Yadav and followed it up with the wicket of 'keeper Dishant Yagnik before lunch to complete his five-wicket haul.
Reeling at 59 for 7, Rajasthan's misery continued after the break, with the last three batsmen adding 30 runs in 7.1 overs. "I delivered a good spell though the conditions also helped me," said Patel.
Haryana, after their superb bowling, would have fancied their chances of taking the upper hand, but they lost six wickets for 31 runs, the tormentor, this time, being Rituraj Singh.
Rituraj first trapped opener Rahul Diwan on the pads in the fourth over. In the next over Pankaj Singh had Sunny Singh edge one to Akash Chopra at second slip.