Rahane and Pujara add to Rajasthan’s woes
Murali Vijay, out of Indian Test team for over a year now, put Rest of India in a commanding position at stumps with an unbeaten 151 on the second day of the five-day Irani Cup cricket match against a mediocre Rajasthan attack at the M. Chinnaswamy stadium here on Saturday.
Openers Ajinkya Rahane and Vijay laid a solid foundation with a 173-run first wicket stand before skipper Cheteshwar Pujara complimented their effort with a steady 78 of his own in a 153-run second-wicket partnership.
Vijay needed a big innings ahead of the home series against England and Australia later in the year. And he chose the season opener to show the selectors that he is in contention.
Attacking with assurance, the Tamil Nadu batsman smacked five sixes and 18 boundaries in his 257 ball knock and is still at the crease along with S. Badrinath (batting on 1).
Vijay last played a Test series for India in the 2011 West Indies tour and was dropped after a poor string of scores there. Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir had both missed the tour then.
Foolish run out
On Saturday, first Rahane scored a fine 81 (off 143 balls, 12x4s) before foolishly running himself out, the only way Rajasthan looked like getting a breakthrough.
Driving and pulling well, Rahane scored at a brisk rate thwarting the designs of the Ranji Trophy champion. After his dismissal Pujara joined Vijay and looked set for a big score himself before edging left arm pacer Aniket Choudhary’s second delivery with the new ball behind.
Rajasthan’s bowling woes was compounded when Deepak Chahar limped off with a muscle strain while spinners Gajendra Singh (left arm) and offie Madhur Khatri was carted around. Choudhary was the lone bowler to get some bounce from this dead-pan second day track.
Skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar did ring in frequent bowling changes but the powerful Rest of India batting weathered it well. Rest will look to stretch its lead of 75 by a huge margin and then catch the weary Rajasthan batting on a fourth day pitch.
The scores: Rajasthan — 1st innings: 253.
Rest of India — 1st innings: A. Rahane (run out) 81 (143b, 12x4), M. Vijay (batting) 151 (257b, 18x4, 5x6), C. Pujara c Yagnik b Choudhary 78 (140b, 11x4, 1x6), S. Badrinath (batting) 1 (12b); Extras (b-4, lb-2, w-5, nb-6): 17; Total (for two wickets in 91 overs): 328.
Fall of wickets: 1-173, 2-326.
Rajasthan bowling: Choudhary 19-5-57-1, Chahar 12.1-1-53-0, Mathur 15.5-2-51-0, Gajendra Singh 24-2-79-0, Khatri 19-1-72-0, Saxena 1-0-10-0.
Keywords: Irani Cup cricket match