Rajasthan fire opening salvo, test TN patience | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Rajasthan fire opening salvo, test TN patience

As Abhinav Mukund chased a late cut by Aakash Chopra, the ball’s speed kept teasing the fielder. He put in some extra effort but the attempt also took Mukund over the boundary rope and caused him to slip on the cement blocks and limp out of the field.

cricket Updated: Jan 20, 2012 02:39 IST
Abhijeet Kulkarni

As Abhinav Mukund chased a late cut by Aakash Chopra, the ball’s speed kept teasing the fielder. He put in some extra effort but the attempt also took Mukund over the boundary rope and caused him to slip on the cement blocks and limp out of the field.

The script of the Ranji final’s first day was similar as Rajasthan teased the hosts with their ultra slow approach.

At stumps, the defending champions were 221 for no loss with openers Aakash Chopra (86 not out) and Vineet Saxena (120 not out) determined to bat their opponents out of the contest. This was after Rajasthan opted to bat on a placid Chidambaram Stadium track on Thursday.

Despite the curator leaving some grass, there was hardly anything in the wicket for the new-ball bowlers. http://www.hindustantimes.com/images/HTPopups/200112/20-01-12-metro18d.jpg

Normally sedate at the start, Chopra flicked skipper L Balaji for consecutive boundaries before Saxena joined the party to score 17 runs off the first over.

But that was the only time when the batsmen showed some aggression as they immediately fell back on the tried and tested method of tiring out their opponents. Notwithstanding the blow on Chopra’s face off a J Kaushik bouncer in the sixth over of the day, the visitors were always in control — be it the second session in which the team managed to score just 65 off 29 overs or Saxena consuming 45 balls to play his first scoring shot after completing his half century at lunch.

During this period, Tamil Nadu tried everything from setting an attacking field to asking their spinners to bowl a negative line outside leg, but they could manage just one half chance and a couple of top edges that landed in no man’s land.

Playing risk-free cricket, both Saxena and Chopra were prepared to leave anything outside the off stump and ran hard between the wickets to rotate the strike. The only liberty Saxena gave himself was to step out to the spinners once in a while and played a couple of reverse sweeps off Aushik Srinivas to dissuade the left-arm spinner from bowling a leg stump and outside line.

Saxena reached his 10th first-class century with a flick to the fine leg fence and signalled it with a punch in the air. The knock came after 337 minutes of vigilance and off 237 balls.

The day’s only chance came when Chopra’s miscued short arm pull off Srinivas went straight to R Prasanna at forward short leg but the middle order batsman could not hold on to the ball.

Tamil Nadu took the second new ball in their attempt to regain control but the move played into the hands of their opponents, who scored at three runs per over for the first time in the day.