Taking full advantage of an attack sans Zaheer Khan and Ajit Agarkar, defending champions Rajasthan made merry on Day One of their Ranji Trophy match against Mumbai at the KL Saini Stadium here on Friday. The holders ended the day on 269/2, thanks to centurions Vineet Saxena (114 batting) and skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar (119).
Rajasthan lost Ankit Lamba in the second over, but new man Kanitkar and Saxena denied the visitors for the better part of the day by adding 220 runs in 73.1 overs. Both batsmen continued their dominance over the most successful team in the tournament’s history. As a Rajasthan player, Kanitkar has scored 113, 141 and 119 in three matches against Mumbai. Saxena has piled on 143, 53, 4 and 114 not out in the same number of games against the domestic giants.
The day began with Rohit Sharma, leading Mumbai in the absence of Ajit Agarkar, opting to field on a surface with a tinge of grass. There was a hint of lateral movement off the pitch early on in the innings. And when opener Lamba perished while playing a Kshemal Waingankar delivery away from the body and into the hands of Sharma at first slip, the Mumbai skipper must have smelt blood. However, it wasn’t to be. Mumbai tried seven bowlers, but only Waingankar and left-arm spinner Ankeet Chavan tasted success.
Earlier, Kanitkar looked in fine touch right from the word go. He unfurled a flurry of cover drives and steadied Rajasthan’s innings along with Saxena, who was scratchy in the initial phase of his innings and beaten on numerous occasions outside the off stump. He reached his half century in the 24th over of the innings by striking a boundary off Abhishek Nayar.
On the other hand, Saxena played around Kanitkar and survived the difficult phase with grit. He grew in confidence as the innings progressed and started using his feet when the spinners came into the attack. Saxena played a couple of lofty strokes off Chavan and Ramesh Powar as Rajasthan took lunch at 126/1 in 37 overs. Saxena duly completed his half century after lunch, off 117 balls.
With Saxena solid at one end, Kanitkar continued to flay the bowlers with imperious felicity. He cut Dhaval Kulkarni for a couple of boundaries as Rajasthan went past 150 in the 56th over and reached his 32nd first-class century by gliding the ball to the fine-leg boundary in the penultimate over of the second session.
From 198/1 at tea, Rajasthan reached 200 in the 66th over and continued to milk the Mumbai bowlers. Kanitkar was trapped leg-before after scoring a fluent 119 off 192 balls, inclusive of 17 fours, when he played forward to a slider from Chavan which hit him on the front pad.
Robin Bist and Saxena negotiated the rest of the overs with utmost caution. Saxena looked uneasy during the 90s and played a couple of false shots. He eventually got to the landmark by steering Shardul Thakur to backward point for a couple. The hundred took him 287 balls, and he hit 15 boundaries and a six, off Chavan.
Rajasthan 1st innings: V Saxena 114 not out, A Lamba c R Sharma b K Waingankar 9, H Kanitkar lbw b A Chavan 119, R Bist 14 not out
Extras: (LB6, NB7) 13
Total: (2 wickets; 90 overs) 269 (2.98 runs per over)
Fall of wickets: 1-10 (A Lamba, 1.5 ov), 2-230 (H Kanitkar, 74.6 ov)
Bowling: D Kulkarni 16-3-47-0, K Waingankar 15-4-58-1 (NB5), S Thakur 11-2-34-0, A Nayar 18-4-47-0, A Chavan 15-2-35-1, R Powar 12-3-28-0 (NB2), S Yadav 3-0-14-0