ROI set to lift Irani Cup

Rest of India (ROI) were in an unbeatable position in the Irani Cup, setting an improbable 618-run target for Rajasthan on Day Four here yesterday. ROI took a massive 263-run first innings lead after bowling Rajasthan out for 400, and chose to bat instead of enforcing the follow-on.

ROI's Pragyan Ojha took 5-86

ROI openers Shikhar Dhawan (155) and Abhinav Mukund (154) scored at a brisk pace accumulating 354-2 in 54 overs before ROI announced a late declaration. Rajasthan's Aakash Chopra was batting at 19 and Vineet Saxena on three when stumps were drawn. Resuming at 307-6, Ranji Trophy champions Rajasthan needed 157 runs to avoid the follow-on but they folded up after adding only 93.

Menaria perishes
A lot depended on Ashok Menaria but he could add only 20 more to his overnight score of 59 before perishing to left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha (5-86). Menaria lofted one straight to Mukund at long-on giving away his wicket.

Ojha struck again in the next over, trapping the other overnight batsman Deepak Chahar leg-before. Madhur Khatri (31) and Sumit Mathur (21) added 50 runs for the ninth wicket before R. Vinay Kumar trapped Khatri LBW. Ojha completed his five-wicket haul, dismissing Mathur.

ROI skipper Parthiv Patel decided to bat again and Dhawan and Mukund plundered the Rajasthan attack right from the start. Dhawan brought up his half-century off 53 deliveries by driving Chahar to the cover boundary while Mukund reached his fifty off 73 balls.

The two took their opening stand to 200 at tea. Dhawan brought up his century off 90 balls soon after tea, becoming the first batsman to score a hundred in each innings of the Irani Trophy. Abhinav reached his century a few overs later, off 121 balls.

The two added to 310 runs before Dhawan was caught at long-on by Khatri off Mathur. His knock came off 126 balls and included 22 fours and three sixes. Mukund fell when he too was caught at long-on off Menaria.

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