Around 20 kilometers from Rohtak, a team's dream to make it to their second Ranji Trophy final in a row and tenth in all was fulfilled while another's chance to play in the final for the first time in 20 years went abegging.
Defending champions Rajasthan came out on top against Haryana on the third day as they won by 64 runs with the hosts managing just 120 in the last innings.
After Haryana lost two wickets on the second day chasing 185 to win on a bowler friendly track it was always going to be a tough task for the batsmen. It turned out to be exactly that. However, Haryana have to cop up part of the blame as they showed no fight, something they had displayed consistently over the last couple of days.
On Thursday morning, both the sides were nervous as it was still an open game. However, in the fourth over of the day, night watchman Harshal Patel edged a Rituraj delivery to wicketkeeper Dishat Yagnik as Amit Amit Mishra's side were soon 20 for 3. Sixteen runs and six overs later Rituraj struck again, this time a successful leg before appeal against Prateek Pawar.
Top guard falls
Opener Nitin Saini who till now had kept his wicket intact, even scoring three boundaries, managed to nick a Pankaj Singh delivery to Rajasthan skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar at first slip. Though the batsman stood his ground as he thought it was a bump catch, he finally had to go back disappointed.
Rajasthan pacer Sumeet Mathur, who had been playing a good supporting role without any reward, got one in the last column as he bowled Priyank Tehlan with the youngster just managing to touch the ball with his elbow.
Haryana's fate now hung on the shoulders of middle-order batsman Sachin Rana and skipper Amit Mishra. However, Rana (25) was trapped in front of the wicket by Pankaj.
While Rajasthan had a good lunch, the desert team got their dessert only in the second session. Seven overs into the break, Rituraj got Jayant Yadav at point when the latter cut him but was held by Puneet Yadav. Mishra, who had resisted playing any rash shot, gave into instinsts. But his upper cut off Pankaj Singh got him caught by Robin Bist at Jonty Rhodes's corner.
Mohit Sharma's airborne shot was also held at point. Sharma's wicket was Rituraj's fifth and the paceman walked away with match figures of 12 for 82.
With Rajasthan in final for the second consecutive time, their coach Amit Asawa couldn't stop hailing his boys. "A good team always comes back from tough situations and that is what we have done throughout the season. We didn't start well but over the last few games, our boys have showed enough character," said Asawa.
Regarding any specific preparations as they are now likely to play Tamil Nadu in Chennai -the Kanitkar said they will continue to take that game like any other knockout encounter. "At first we wanted to save relegation, then wanted to qualify in knockouts, then win them…so the final won't be any different as Tamil Nadu will be a tough side to beat at home."