Rajasthan's journey till the semi-final proves that they were deserving Ranji Trophy champions last season, while for Haryana, it's an opportunity for the youngsters to showcase their talent when they face each other in the other semi-final today.
With the Rohtak wicket promising to assist fast bowlers right from the beginnings, Rajasthan may find it a somewhat similar to what they experienced in the semi-final against Tamil Nadu last season. Here are excerpts from Aakash Chopra's new book Out of the Blue published by Harper Sport where in the India opener writes about Rajasthan's triumph over Tamil Nadu in last year's Ranji semi-final:
Will Tamil Nadu stop Rajasthan's dream run?' queried a news headline a few mornings before the big match. Later that day, a friend from Chennai called to thank the Rajasthan boys for defeating Mumbai and paving the way for an inevitable Tamil Nadu victory. During the net sessions too, we found the Tamil Nadu team looking super confident. The star-studded line-up wore a look of obvious superiority.
Tamil Nadu came to the north well prepared, both with woolen and personnel. A huge squad of 20 cricketers depended on the practice arena of the Rajasthan Cricket Academy. TN skipper Dinesh Karthik won the toss and, not surprisingly, chose to field first.
Since they had a plethora of fast bowlers to opt from, they picked four front-line seamers in the playing XI with R Sathish as back-up seamer. They also played an offie to give breathers to the faster men when required. Their bowling attack looked pretty solid on paper, which meant that our job was cut out. We'd have bat our skins off to make a match of it, for a low first innings score would hand over the first round to Tamil Nadu.
I won't say Rajasthan was born to win. Not until that that day, at least, when we realised that to win, we must, above all, expect to win. As for Tamil Nadu, they must wait for another seasonto change their fortunes. For this year, it didn't really matter that Mumbai had lost in the quarterfinals, for Rajasthan had other plans.