The scenes of jubilation at Chepauk here on Monday reflected the hard work and commitment behind the triumph. Rajasthan's back-to-back Ranji Trophy title wins meant its incredible flight upwards from the Plate division last season continues.
The visitor clinched the final against Tamil Nadu on the basis of its mammoth 326-run lead in the first innings. Rajasthan declared its second innings at 204 for five at tea on the fifth day. The home side was eight for two at the start of the last hour when play was called off.
For Rajasthan, the promising Robin Bist notched up 92 (185b, 13x4) becoming the only batsman in the Ranji season to cross 1000 runs. This well-organised batsman has possibilities.
Predictably, the surface played tricks on day five. Several deliveries shot through and some climbed off the cracks. R. Prasanna picked up three wickets employing his military medium off-cutters to good effect.
Rajasthan skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar, a wily campaigner, sported the smile of satisfaction at the end of it all. He won a vital toss and then got his strategy right. The patient run-accumulation — this team has the ability to bat for long periods — not only swelled the total but also made Tamil Nadu wait till the pitch deteriorated.
Then, the nippy Rituraj Singh and the tall Pankaj Singh, who put more effort into his bowling than any other paceman in the match, dented the line-up early. The home side never really recovered.
While the toss played its hand in the eventual outcome, Tamil Nadu could have bowled with greater imagination in the first innings on a picth lacking bounce.
Keeping a single saving field, creating the pressure, relying on precise wicket-to-wcket off-cutters at a reduced pace, and flighting the sphere with intelligent changes in angles were options that the side did not explore in the first innings.
There were times when the Tamil Nadu bowling appeared mechanical; this allowed the game to drift. The pacmen should have attacked the stumps more on a track of low bounce.
Apart from Karthik and to a lesser extent R. Prasanna, the famed Tamil Nadu line-up did not apply itself. The conditions were tougher for batting when Tamil Nadu batted but the host could have, at least, put up a fight.
Bist made an impression on the final day. He picked the length quickly and adjusted his feet movement accordingly. His driving on both sides of the wicket was easy on the eye.
Given the low bounce in the pitch, he rightly got on to the front foot. If the ball was not in line with the stumps, he covered for the movement and played the ball late. And there were occasions when he converted the length by stepping out.
Bist also used the depth of the crease — a good quality in a young batsman. There were times when he was undone by the double bounce in the pitch
— he took a painful blow on the knuckles by a delivery that lifted from a length — but managed to make the right impression.
But then, he threw away an opportunity to notch up a century. Bist attempted to loft Prasanna over the leg-side field but only succeeding in lobbing a catch to mid-on.
His side, though, did not miss out on the opportunity in the final.
The scores: Rajasthan — Ist innings: 621.
Tamil Nadu — Ist innings: 295.
Rajasthan — 2nd innings: A. Chopra c & b Kaushik 18, V. Saxena b Prasanna 13, R. Bist c Mukund b Prasanna 92, H. Kanitkar lbw b Vijay 12, R. Parida (not out) 43, P. Yadav b Prassana 0, D. Yaglik (not out) 9, Extras (b-15, nb-2) 17, Total (for five wkts in 77 overs) 204.
Fall of wkts: 1-29, 2-52, 3-93, 4-174, 5-180.
Tamil Nadu bowling: Kaushik 11-3-38-1, Yomahesh 7-3-20-0, Srinivas 28-10-61-0, Prasanna 21-9-31-3, Vijay 9-0-38-1, Abhinav 1-0-1-0.
Tamil Nadu — 2nd innings: Y. Yomahesh lbw b Gajendra 0, Abhinav Mukund lbw b Gajendra 1, K. Vasudevasas (not out) 7, S. Badrinath (not out) 0, Total (for two wkts in 13 overs) 8.
Fall of wkts: 1-0, 2-7.
Rajasthan bowling: Gajendra 6-5-5-2, Bist 6-4-3-0, Yadav 1-1-0-0.
Keywords: Ranji Trophy