Defending champs Rajasthan virtually seal Ranji title through first innings lead over Tamil Nadu
Rajasthan have all but won the Ranji Trophy for the second season running as they took a match-winning first innings lead of 326 after dismissing Tamil Nadu for 295 on the fourth day of the final here yesterday.
In vain? Tamil Nadu's Dinesh Karthik in full flow on Day Four of the Ranji Trophy final against Rajasthan at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai yesterday.
Replying to Rajasthan's mammoth first innings score of 621, Tamil Nadu, who began the day at 66 for three, buckled under pressure with Dinesh Karthik playing a lone hand while scoring a valiant 150.
Not opting to enforce the follow-on, Rajasthan batted a second time and were 21 for no loss at stumps and would have kept the champagne in the ice bucket ahead of the celebrations today when the five-day game concludes.
Despite the spotlight on the pitch that came in for some heavy criticism for its lack of pace and low bounce, the Rajasthan bowlers did a fine job to restrict Tamil Nadu whose line-up included five players with international experience, but, barring Karthik, flopped miserably.
For Rajasthan, the seamers did the bulk of damage. Rituraj Singh picked up four for 76 while fellow-new ball bowler Pankaj Singh returned 2 for 58 and Sumit Mathur 2 for 53.
The trio of seamers have been the mainstay of Rajasthan all this season and yet again they delivered to telling effect on the same pitch on which their Tamil Nadu counterparts had looked innocuous.
As well as the Rajasthan bowlers bowled, some of the Tamil Nadu batsmen contributed to their own downfall, attempting shots when the conditions demanded discretion.
The home team's hopes were shattered late Saturday evening itself when they lost three key batsmen for next to nothing and it effectively sealed their fate though Karthik made a spirited effort that in the context of the match did not matter much given the huge total his team was chasing.
Karthik batted quite brilliantly to hold his end up, but never found a partner to build a sizeable partnership. In fact, overnight not out batsman K Vasudevadas fell in the very third over of the day, holing out at square-leg without adding to his overnight score of 25.
A 76-run stand between Karthik and Ramaswamy Prasanna (44) somewhat retrieved the situation for Tamil Nadu. Even as the duo appeared to have got on top of the situation, Prasanna was run out attempting a single.
Run out Karthik played to mid-on and set off. The throw at the non-striker's end missed the stumps, but went to wicketkeeper Dishant Yagnik who did the rest and Prasanna was adjudged run out after a third umpire referral.
Two more wickets, those of Sunny Gupta and Vijaykumar Yo Mahesh, in quick succession effectively ended Tamil Nadu's challenge while Karthik's presence, as also skipper Lakshmipathy Balaji's quickfire 29, merely delayed the inevitable.
Karthik, after surviving a chance at 84 when Gajendra Singh dropped a sitter, went on to complete his century and in the process, completing 3,000 runs in Ranji Trophy with a six off Rituraj Singh.
In the company of tail-enders, Karthik reached 150, but inside-edged Mathur on to his stumps to be ninth out and the end of the innings followed soon after.
Brief scores: Rajasthan 621 and 21/0 vs Tamil Nadu 295 (Dinesh Karthik 150, Ramaswamy Prasanna 44; Rituraj Singh 4/76, Pankaj Singh 2/58).