The script moved on predictable lines on the third day of the Irani Cup tie. Rest of India milked the runs; Rajasthan bowlers haplessly watched the lead swell to 354. At close, the Ranji champions were already heading towards an innings defeat.
Opener Ankit Lamba was dismissed by Ishant Sharma as Rajasthan ended the day at 43 for one after ROI declared at 607 for seven.
The game had long become a statistical goldfield for the Rest of India bats. Cheteshwar Pujara, S Badrinath and Dinesh Karthik helped themselves to half-centuries, although each of them were set for a big one. Murali Vijay was determined to a make a killing out of a dead contest. Hitting a mammoth 266, Vijay achieved his personal best in domestic cricket and bettered the previous highest Irani Cup score held by Praveen Amre (246) against Bengal in 1990.
Starting the day on 151, Vijay looked even more fluid as he consumed just 52 balls to race to his third double-century. He was dismissed in trying to clear long-on after facing 394 balls.
S Badrinath, who was part of India’s Test squad against New Zealand, forged a 141-run partnership with Vijay before being cleaned up by Deepak Chahar with a delivery that kept low. Dinesh Karthik was dismissed leg-before to Madhur Khatri as ROI, inching closer to 600, were eyeing a declaration.
With 16 overs remaining, ROI skipper Cheteshwar Pujara put his bowlers to work. With Sharma getting the early breakthrough, Rajasthan are faced with an uphill task of averting an outright crushing defeat.
Rajasthan (1st innings): 253
Rest of India (1st innings, O/N: 328/2): M Vijay c Singh b Khatri 266, S Badrinath b Chahar 55, D Karthik lbw b Khatri 56,
W Saha not out 29, S Binny b Chahar 3, H Singh b Khatri 1,
P Ojha not out 0
Extras: (B14, LB9, W5, NB10) 38
Total: (7 wickets decl; 165 overs) 607 (3.67 runs per over) FoW: 3-467 (Badrinath, 124.4 ov), 4-530 (Vijay, 140.1 ov), 5-596 (Karthik, 159.1 ov), 6-599 (Binny, 160.2 ov), 7-600 (Harmeet Singh, 161.5 ov)
Bowling: A Choudhary 34-8-112-1 (NB3, W2), D Chahar 27.1-2-99-2 (NB7), S Mathur 24.5-3-89-0 (W1), G Singh 41-4-149-0 (W2), M Khatri 37-4-125-3, V Saxena 1-0-10-0
Rajasthan (2nd innings):
A Lamba c Karthik b Sharma 4, V Saxena batting 17, H Kanitkar batting 21
Extras: (LB1) 1
Total: (1 wicket; 12 overs) 43 (3.58 runs per over)
FoW: 1-4 (Lamba, 0.4 ov)
Bowling: I Sharma 4-0-17-1, U Yadav 4-1-17-0, S Binny 2-1-4-0, P Ojha 2-1-4-0