Rajasthan 89. Haryana 82 for eight. Not a T20 contest but just a day-old Ranji Trophy semifinal on a lively pitch that tested the character and discipline of a batsman.
It was just the playing surface that separates good from the ordinary. To call the pitch anything else would be a travesty as bowlers prided in their vocation at the Chaudhary Bansi Lal Stadium here on Tuesday.
Haryana won the toss and exploited the conditions,courtesy Harshal Patel. His eight for 34 was better than his own eight for 40 against Karnataka in the preceding match last week.
Rajasthan hit back and the day ended on a delicate note with the home team clearly lamenting the chance missed to build on the brilliant platform that the 19-year-old Harshal had created.
“One has to rely on seam movement here (at Lahli),” said the unassuming Harshal.
He just pitched the ball up, moved it just that bit, accuracy behind his forte. The bounce was true but not one batsman showed the application needed to excel on such a pitch. There was not a dismissal that could be attributed to the vagaries of the pitch.
Edges flew and were held too as Harshal scythed through the Rajasthan top order. The batsman were embarrassed and humiliated by a youngster who knew his strength well. “The Lahli pitch slows down a little but I stuck to the basics,” he said. Only if the batsmen had remembered this lesson!
A resilient 32 off 86 balls by opener Vineet Saxena saved Rajasthan from utter destruction. His duel with Harshal and his ultimate dismissal was the highlight of the day. Harshal loves to mix his deliveries and his range makes him a bowler to watch and respect. Saxena, the eighth man out, was foxed by a slower one.
“It took me two overs before I could get the ball out of my hands properly,” confessed a smiling Harshal. Once he came to terms with the biting cold and icy winds, he was a terror with the ball.
When Haryana batted, it repeated the mistakes of Rajasthan. The batsmen played away from the body with little footwork, falling prey to one that moved late. Tailenders Jayant Yadav (23 off 61 balls) and Mohit Sharma (16 batting off 61 balls) kept Haryana in the hunt for the first innings lead.
“The match is open. It is a matter of taking the first innings lead,” Harshal observed. Eight runs separate the team but the contest has just begun on just the kind of pitch Indian cricket so sorely needs.
Rajasthan — 1st innings: Aakash Chopra c Saini b Harshal 4, Vineet Saxena c Dewan b Harshal 32, Hrishiikesh Kanitkar c Saini b Harshal 4, Robin Bist lbw b Harshal 0, Rashmi Ranjan Parida c Saini b Mohit 1, Puneet Yadav b Harshal 6, Dishant Yagnik c Saini b Harshal 7, Rituraj Singh c Rana b Hooda 4, Gajendra Singhc Pawar b Harshal 16, Pankaj Singh c Pawar b Harshal 0, Sumit Mathur (not out) 13, Extras (lb-1, nb-1) 2, Total (in 36.1 overs) 89.
Fall of wickets: 1- 13, 2-17, 3-17, 4-18, 5-29, 6-46, 7-52, 8-62, 9-66.
Haryana bowling: Mohit Sharma 15-6-23-1, Harshal Patel 15.1-4-34-8, Ashish Hooda 6-0-31-1.
Haryana — 1st innings: Nitin Saini lbw b Rituraj 5, Rahul Dewan lbw b Rituraj 1, Sunny Singh c Choprab Pankaj 0, Prateek Pawar b Rituraj 0, Sachin Rana c Yagnik b Pankaj 5, Priyank Tehlan c Pankaj b Rituraj 11, Amit Mishra c Bisht b Rituraj 12, Jayant Yadav lbw b Mathur 23, Mohit Sharma (batting) 16, Harshal Patel (batting) 4, Extras (b-4) 4, Total (for eight wickets in 41 overs) 82.
Fall of wickets: 1- 6, 2- 7, 3- 7, 4-12, 5- 12, 6-31, 7-40, 8-73.
Rajasthan bowling: Pankaj Singh 13-4-21-2, Rituraj Singh 15-5-36-5, Sumit Mathur 13-6-21-1.
Keywords: Ranji Trophy