S. Badrinath was left high and dry by his Tamil Nadu teammates even as Rajasthan's collective show of strength helped it snatch a spot in the Ranji Trophy final.
The Sawai Man Singh Stadium witnessed some amazing scenes that rekindled the glorious days of Rajasthan cricket when it figured among the elite in the country. Badrinath was brave and unflinching, but his unbeaten 175 was not enough to stop Rajasthan from winning the contest by virtue of first innings lead Rajasthan previous appearance in the Ranji final was in 1974.
“It was a superb team effort. Each player had a role and played it to perfection,' said a delighted Rajasthan skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar, who would be playing in his maiden Ranji final. So would the rest of the team, barring ‘man of the match' Aakash Chopra.
Rajasthan won but so did Badrinath with the devotion that marked his innings. It was a flawless effort except for one stumping chance off leg-spinner Vivek Yadav. “Badri's innings sums up the season for us. He was the only player who stood up to the rigours of the game,” said a dejected Tamil Nadu captain Dinesh Karthik.
Resuming at 190 for three, Tamil Nadu progressed slowly but surely. K. Shri Vasudevadas was the first to go, dragging an innocuous ball on to the stumps. Next was R. Sathish, who attempted an expansive drive. C. Ganapathy's reckless pull added to the woes.
With S. Suresh Kumar showing some fight, Badrinath frustrated Rajasthan. As the seamers did not make any impact at this stage, Kanitkar tossed the ball to Vivek.
Vivek struck with his fifth ball, trapping Suresh in front. L. Balaji fell to the same bowler in similar fashion. Badrinath stood dejected when R. Suthesh skied the ball and looked shattered when Sunil Sam was run out off a direct hit by Robin Bisht.
In the final, Rajasthan will clash with Baroda at Vadodara from January 11.
The scores: Rajasthan — 1st innings: 552 for seven decl.
Tamil Nadu — 1st innings: Abhinav Mukund lbw b Pankaj 47, K.B. Arun Karthik b Chahar 7, S. Badrinath (not out) 175, Dinesh Karthik lbw b Vivek 28, K. Shri Vasudevadas b Pankaj 38, R. Sathish c Vivek b Mathur 27, C. Ganapathy c Menaria b Mathur 4, S. Suresh Kumar lbw b Vivek 20, L. Balaji lbw b Vivek 19, R. Suthesh c Saxena b Vivek 4, Sunil Sam (run out) 0; Extras (b-4, lb-6, nb-2, w-4): 16; Total (in 140.2 overs): 385.
Fall of wickets: 1-18, 2-93, 3-139, 4-222, 5-283, 6-293, 7-336, 8-377, 9-385.
Rajasthan bowling: Pankaj 36.2-7-112-2, Chahar 37-10-81-1, Mathur 40-5-84-2, Vivek 25-7-87-4, Menaria 1-0-5-0, Saxena 1-0-6-0.
Tamil Nadu — 2nd innings: Sunil Sam (not out) 1, Abhinav Mukund (not out) 0; Extras (w-1): 1; Total (for no loss in one over): 2.
Rajasthan bowling: Parida 1-0-2-0 .