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The Report by Siddarth Ravindran in Bangalore
September 23, 2012
Rajasthan 253 and 43 for 1 trail Rest of India 607 for 7 declared (Vijay 266, Rahane 81, Pujara 78, Karthik 56, Badrinath 55) by 311 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
There were no glorious uncertainties on the third day of the Irani Cup at the Chinnaswamy Stadium as, expectedly, Rest of India's batsmen piled on the runs against Rajasthan. M Vijay continued to enjoy himself, reaching the highest individual score in the tournament's history, beating a 22-year-old record held by Praveen Amre, to pretty much ensure the Ranji champions would be denied the Irani Cup for a seventh year in a row.
As early as Saturday morning, when the openers Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane were utterly at ease against Rajasthan, the discussion in the press box was about when Rest of India will decide to declare, and at what score. The majority view was that Rajasthan would be in the field at least till tea on the third day; it turned out that Rest of India batted for almost an hour after tea, till the lead stretched to a mammoth 354.
Worryingly, for Rajasthan, the odd ball stayed low making it difficult for the batsmen, and one from left-arm spinner Gajendra Singh took off from the rough, spinning past the outside edge and the wicketkeeper's shoulder. It was by no means a difficult track to bat on yet, but was promising to become one as Rajasthan looked to bat out the best part of two days.
That also meant the day wasn't an absolute cruise for the Rest of India batsmen, as it had been on Saturday. Vijay began with a couple of wristy square-leg boundaries, and within the first half-hour had reprised the two signature shots of his innings: an off-drive between the bowler and mid-off, and a carve through cover for another boundary. But there were a few false shots as well, like the Chinese cut for four off left-arm quick bowler Aniket Choudhary and several missed shots with the ball going through to the keeper.
Just before the first drinks break of the day, Vijay brought up his third double-hundred, with a drive for four to long-on. The stream of drives through the V continued, and he also guided several wide deliveries to the third man boundary as he neared his previous personal best of 243. He was put down by Sumit Mathur at long-on on 220, and looked plumb lbw to Mathur on 258 but he persevered, not showing too many signs of tiredness. He was hobbling soon after as a delivery sneaked between his pad and thigh and painfully struck him on the knee. It wasn't long before he finally holed out to long-on, walking off for 266.
Like each of the other batsmen before him, S Badrinath also helped himself to a half-century, and with lunch around the corner, he looked good for his first first-class hundred since last December. Instead, he was done in by a shortish ball from Deepak Chahar which kept low.
That didn't affect Rest of India too much, as Dinesh Karthik joined the half-century party, with a 56 that included ten boundaries. He used his feet to the spinners, and was forceful on the cut against anything short. He was looking to defend a delivery from the offspinner Madhur Khatri off the front foot, but it spun past the inside-edge and he was gone lbw for 56.
Rajasthan's bowlers finally got some respite late in the day, as Cheteshwar Pujara declared with 16 overs remaining. Rajasthan had waited half a day to get their first wicket on Saturday, but Rest of India needed only four deliveries as Ishant Sharma got one to swerve away and take Ankit Lamba's outside edge to Dinesh Karthik, who took over the keeping duties from Wriddhiman Saha for the second innings. On the evidence so far, Rajasthan have given little reason to believe the Irani Cup won't be as comprehensively one-sided as it has been over the past few years. Taking the game to the fifth day itself will be an achievement for them.
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Siddarth Ravindran
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