Menaria, Kanitkar take Rajasthan to 485
Rajasthan 483 for 5 (Chopra139, Menaria 88*, Kanitkar 64*) v Tamil Nadu
How much is enough for Rajasthan? They are on 485 for 5 and there are two days left to go in this semi-final. They need time to bowl out Tamil Nadu or else the game will be reduced to one decided on the basis of run-rate. That the pitch has eased up considerably has only muddled the equation Ideally, Rajasthan will press for quick runs on the third morning so that they can increase their run-rate and put further pressure on Tamil Nadu.
Today morning was all about consolidation. The pitch was expected to ease up after an hour and though Rajasthan lost their nightwatchman, Aakash Chopra and Robin Bist strove to preserve wickets. Tamil Nadu upped the ante; the bowling, led by L Balaji, was disciplined and the fielding was sharp. With Chopra continuing to be solid outside off, even the right-hand seamers went around the stumps to try a different angle. Chopra square drove the left-arm seamer Suthesh to the point boundary and the singles had started to come more freely when he got out: he tried to work a length delivery from S Sam to the on side, but got a leading edge to gully.
Bist then donned the attacking role, off driving and on driving Sam for successive boundaries, and just when he was in stride, he was adjudged lbw when he missed a pull against R Sathish and was hit marginally outside off stump. Rashmi Parida was the set batsman and he tried to break free with a crashing cover drive but S Badrinath intercepted smartly at short extra cover to leave Rajasthan at 388 for 5. It was a crucial moment but Hrishikesh Kanitkar, who limped off the field last evening after edging a drive to his foot, came out with a runner and, in the company of the enterprising Ashok Menaria, propelled Rajasthan towards a large total.
While Kanitkar shored up one end, Menaria, the former India Under-19 captain who hit a ton against Mumbai in the quarter-finals, increased the tempo with several attacking shots. He punched off the back foot and square drove when the ball was pitched up and kept the scorecard ticking over. He clouted the spinners for couple of sixes and hit nine fours as 92 runs came in the last session. The second new ball, in particular, leaked runs as the pair stole 26 from the first five overs.
"We will bat for a few overs more tomorrow and set up a stiffer target," Chopra said at the end of the day. "The pitch has eased up and it might come down to run rate but Tamil Nadu will have to contend with the pressure of a large total."
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo