Former Australia pacer Dennis Lillee once remarked 'Only cows get excited after watching grass. The bowlers have to bowl in the right areas even on a green track to get rewarded'. This is exactly what the Rest of India pacers did in the last session on the second day against Rajasthan in the Irani Cup game here on Sunday.
Rest of India pacemen picked three quick wickets as R Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron all bowled at good pace and in the right areas.
The Ranji champions allowed Rest of India to amass 663 - the third highest total in Irani Cup -- and were in trouble in reply, reduced to 53 for 3 at stumps.Resuming on 400 for three, Ajinkya Rahane scored 152 to add to Shikhar Dhawan's 177 on the first day, ROI piling on the misery on the host bowlers with the lower order batsmen also making useful contributions.
Karnataka paceman Vinay Kumar swung the ball from the start and his new ball partner Umesh Yadav cashed in on the pressure created. Yadav first dismissed Vineet Saxena and then removed skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar nine overs later. Both were caught behind.
Former India opener Aakash Chopra also fell cheaply after he lofted left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha's second delivery, Yadav taking a brilliant catch running backwards at long on. Robin Bist and Ashok Menaria, due to come in next, have a tough job in hand when the hosts resume on Monday.
"We did not bowl well today but all credit to Rest as they bowled in the right areas to exploit the track," said Rajasthan coach Amit Asawa.
Rajasthan began the second day hoping to pick early wickets and debutant left-arm paceman Aniket Choudhary got rid of skipper Parthiv Patel, who slashed at a wide delivery and was pouched by wicketkeeper Rohit Jhalani that broke the 113-run stand with Rahane.
However, Rahane, resuming on 117 not out, continued to consolidate with 19-year-old Punjab all-rounder Mandeep Singh.
Deepak Chahar, who went wicketless, and Choudhary did bowl a better line but still weren't consistent enough. However, pacer Sumit Mathur pitched one up and was rewarded when Rahane drove to Robin Bist at extra cover. Mandeep got his half century but fished outside the off stump against Choudhary to be caught behind.
How weak Rajasthan's bowling was could be judged from the fact that even the lower order batsmen - Vinay Kumar, Varun Aaron and Rahul Sharma - made substantial contributions. Sharma, dropped once, got a fifty off just 37 balls which included five massive sixes.
Aniket hopes to make fresh lessons count
Greg Chappell had a very controversial stint as India coach but he came back in 2008 as director for the Rajasthan Cricket Academy and spotted some serious talent.
One of them could be Aniket Choudhary - the left arm pacer who took four wickets on his first-class debut for Rajasthan in the Irani Cup tie against a strong Rest of India on Sunday.
The 21-year-old from Bikaner gives a lot of credit to other coaches as well who helped him graduate to first-class cricket.
"I was spotted by Greg Chappell in 2008 at the academy but was still not sure about my abilities as a cricketer. Then many others, including Rajasthan coach Amit Asawa, helped me a lot,” he said about his formative years.
He also honed his skills at the National Cricket Academy.
A software engineer, Choudhary always wanted to play cricket but for his parents studies came first. "I loved the game more than anything else but my parents wanted me to study. So I completed computer engineering this year."
How was it filling in for an experienced bowler like Pankaj Singh, who missed out due to injury? "It was tough. I have no experience of first class matches and there is no substitute for experience."
Choudhary, who idolises former Australia pacer Nathan Bracken, first trapped Manish Pandey leg before on Saturday but was not consistent after that and went for runs.
However, he moved the ball well on Sunday and dismissed Parthiv Patel early, before scalping Mandeep Singh and Pragyan Ojha.
It may not be enough for the Ranji champions to stay in the game but Choudhary can only benefit from the lessons learnt.