It was a moment of glory for the Rajasthan team at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chepauk, Chennai when they successfully retained the Ranji crown for second year in a row. Chasing an unlikely victory target of 531 runs, Tamil Nadu finished at 8/2 at the end of fifth day’s play. Rajasthan won the match on the basis of first innings thus retaining the Ranji title.
The Rajasthan team declared their second innings at the score of 204/5 with the total lead of 530 runs over TN. While batting in the second innings, Tamil Nadu lost its first wicket even before adding any run on the board. YV Yo Mahesh was adjudged lbw on the very first ball he faced. The other opener Abhinav Mukund also found his leg blocking the wicket at the team score of 7. Both the wicket was taken by young Rajasthan bowler Gajendra Singh. Tamil Nadu ended the day at 8/2 as the whole Rajasthan team started celebration.
Earlier in the morning, Rajasthan resumed its innings from overnight 21/0. Veteran Aakash Chopra was the first wicket to fall. Aakash (18) was caught and bowled by Jagannathan Kaushik. Vineet Saxena (13), who had scored 257 in the first innings, was back in pavillion soon. Skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar too failed to put some big score and departed when the team scoreboard read 93/3. But the morning session belonged to Robin Bist who missed his 6th first class century by 8 runs. Bist before being caught by Mukund at mid on off R Prasanna, faced 185 deliveries and scored 92 runs with the help of 13 boundaries. Bist, who has 2 centuries this season, started cautiously but played more freely in the later part of the innings. He was well supported by Rashmi Ranjan Parida who remained not out till the end with the score of 43.
In the first innings, riding on ‘Man of the Match’ Saxena’s marathon 257, Rajasthan posted a huge score of 621 runs. Aakash Chopra, Kanitkar and Bist scored half centuries to contribute to this score. In reply, Tamil Nadu could manage only 295 with 150 runs coming from Dinesh Karthik‘s bat. Karthik’s was a lone effort among distarous batting performances by his team mate. 6 of the TN batsmen could score runs in single digit. Two of them scored ducks. Rajasthan bowling was exceptional, like it was throughout the Ranji season, with Rituraj Singh picking up 4 wickets.
Rajasthan successfully defended the tag Ranji Champions which they had earned last year by beating Baroda in the final. Last year, Rajasthan’s success story was inspiring as it started from plate group and finished as champions defeating many big teams en route. By defending the title in style, they have stamped their authority and proved that last year’s success was not a fluke.