Rajasthan,rather inevitability,claimed the first innings lead against Tamil Nadu,and are almost certain to pocket the Ranji Trophy for the second year in a row when play will be called off some time on Monday,the fifth day of the final.
Dinesh Karthik scored 150,but recieved little support from the rest of the batting unit as TN was dismissed for 295,well short of Rajasthans 621. Hrishikesh Kanitkar,after virtually clinching the title,decided not to enforce follow-on and the match was over as a contest from then on,despite a full days play remaining.
Day Four followed the same pattern as the rest of the match,with Rajasthan slowly wearing the opponent down. The visitors had already sent back three of TNs mainstays,the best bets to last the seven sessions they were required to bat out,by the third day. Abhinav Mukund,Subramaniam Badrinath and Murali Vijay,had not lasted a single session between them in the final and it was left to Karthik on Day Four to keep the home side in the hunt.
Despite Karthiks efforts,which lasted 280 balls and over 90 overs,after having kept wickets for almost three days,the Rajasthan juggernaut could not be stopped. Umpire Vineet Kulkarni might well have hastened TNs downfall with a few dodgy decisions Yo Mahesh (on zero) was adjudged lbw when the ball appeared to go down the leg side,while Laxmipathy Balaji got some bat on to the ball which was adjudicated to have dismissed him leg before. But it is difficult to imagine the result being anything other than a win for Rajasthan.
Throughout,the Rajasthan bowlers kept up the pressure,not afraid to bend their backs and solicit whatever response the surface had to offer. Rituraj Singh,the top wicket-taker for the side yet again,combined his back of the hand slow stuff with his cutters and outswingers to pick up four wickets. Pankaj Singh and Sumit Mathur were also disciplined and tireless,picking up two wickets each.
The visitors took just four balls in the morning session to send back overnight batsman K Vasudevadas,who became the fourth straight TN batsman to be dismissed playing across the line. He was caught at midwicket off Rituraj Singh. R Prasanna,who has revived the TN innings on a few occasions this season,added 76 with Karthik before an unfortunate collision between the batsmen led to the formers dismissal. Yo Mahesh departed soon,and Balaji stuck around with the keeper to add 59,but when the umpire sent the skipper on his way,the writing was on the wall for TN.
Karthik,who remained on the field for a whopping 1467 minutes out of 1509 by the time he was dismissed late on the fourth day,displayed immense discipline in cutting out his shots,until the fag end of the innings. He was eventually bowled by Mathur,and the TN resistance,built entirely on him,collapsed minutes later. He might have served notice of his potential as a keeper-batsman with the knock,but it will also unfortunately be the second occasion on which his century in a Ranji final was not enough to win his team the title.
Brief scores: Rajasthan 621 & 21/0 in 7 overs vs Tamil Nadu 295 in 102.4 overs (Dinesh Karthik 150; Rituraj Singh 4/75,Pankaj Singh 2/58,Sumit Mathur 2/53)