Ranji Trophy Elite League 2011-12, quarter-finals, 1st day January 2, 2012

Dogged Chopra steers Rajasthan out of trouble

ESPNcricinfo staff

A vigilant, unbeaten 82 from Aakash Chopra, aided ably by Dishant Yagnik helped Rajasthan recover from a vulnerable position against Hyderabad and finish the first day at 220 for 5 in Uppal.

Rajasthan's decision to make first use of the pitch at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium ran into early trouble against Hyderabad's spirited new-ball bowlers. Anwar Ahmed struck in the very first over of the match, removing Vineet Saxena for a first-ball duck. Pagadala Naidu too made a quick impact, getting Hrishikesh Kanitkar to nick behind to make it 8 for 2. The in-form Robin Bist suggested a recovery, but he too was dismissed soon, by left-arm spinner Lalith Mohan, as the defending champions slumped.

Chopra battled through the tough times, before dragging his side out of the rut with three partnerships. The first two, with Rashmi Parida and Puneet Yadav for company, averted the danger of a collapse, but it was the third - an unbroken 91 with Yagnik for the sixth wicket - that pushed his side towards parity. Parida and Yadav both perished after making starts, with the former falling to left-arm spinner Mehdi Hassan who conceded only 13 runs in his 12-over spell. Mohan trapped Yadav in front for 33, to leave Rajasthan 129 for 5 before the Chopra-Yagnik show began. Chopra scored just six fours in his dogged innings that lasted 272 balls and counting. The senior partner played second fiddle to Yagnik, who was more adventurous in scoring his 60 off 130 balls, with seven hits to the boundary. The pair will be keen to extend their association into the second day, and push Rajasthan towards a safe first-innings total.

Maharashtra ground their way towards a decent total, reaching a solid 202 for 4 on the first day against Tamil Nadu at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. Maharashtra's progress was founded upon a 116-run opening stand between Harshad Khadiwale and Chirag Khurana, though the hosts will be pleased with the extent to which they managed to claw back into contention by stumps.

The openers departed in quick succession after building Maharashtra an impressive platform. Khadiwale's 61 came off 157 balls and featured eight fours, while Khurana missed out on a half-century, falling to Aushik Srinivas for 44. Thereafter, No. 3 batsman Sangram Atitkar guided Maharashtra with an unbeaten half-century. Tamil Nadu made two more breaches at the other end, with Srinivas ending the day with figures of 2 for 64, though he was guilty of bowling eight no-balls. Maharashtra's go-slow approach meant L Balaji and Yo Mahesh boasted economy-rates close to 1.5 runs per over. The slow rate of scoring also means that quick strikes on the second morning will allow the hosts to claim control.

Haryana, on the back of a haul of 8 for 40 from 21-year-old Harshal Patel, took control against Karnataka at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Karnataka chose to bat first on a pitch that had a dark tinge and came up against an inspired Haryana attack. While Harshal kept the batsmen guessing at one end - he got some balls to move away, while others held their line - and invariably snared them, the other bowlers kept things tight. They were backed up by their captain, Amit Mishra, who set attacking fields all through. Harshal, who is in his debut season in first-class cricket, finished with what are the best figures in the Ranji Elite season so far.

Robin Uthappa settled down and looked like the only Karnataka batsman to have any measure of the bowling in an attacking innings of 35, but it did little to help Karnataka. The hosts did not get any relief even when they took to the field, as Haryana's openers, Nitin Saini and Rahul Dewan, batted out 38 overs and struck unbeaten half-centuries. They went to stumps only 31 behind, with all ten wickets intact.

Harshal spoke to ESPNcricinfo at the end of the day's play. Click here for more.

At the Holkar Stadium in Indore, Madhya Pradesh's fast bowlers fought back with relentless discipline, after their batsmen displayed poor application against an average Mumbai attack, on a wicket that demanded it. Click here for the full report of the day's action.

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