Openers Aakash Chopra and Vineet Saxena showed loads of patience on a placid strip to enable Rajasthan take the opening day's honours in the Ranji Trophy final against Tamil Nadu, in Chennai, on Thursday.
At stumps, Rajasthan, opting to bat, were 221 without loss, with Saxena unbeaten on 120 and Chopra on 86.
Interestingly, it was same opening pair that had frustrated Tamil Nadu in the semi-final in Jaipur last year, when they added 181 for the first wicket. On Thursday, they bettered that effort.
With the 22 yard strip at Chepauk offering nothing much for the bowlers, Rajasthan, who boast of domestic heavyweights like Hrishikesh Kanitkar, Rashmi Ranjan Parida and Robin Bist, will certainly look to put up a total in excess of 550.
The gameplan for the past two seasons has been simple for both Saxena and Chopra. They have a risk-free approach towards batting. Both showed enormous patience as they waited for the loose deliveries and never really played any shots that involved risk.
If the lifeless track helped their cause, one can't take away any credit from the pair, which had to toil in humid conditions.
Chopra, who left almost anything and everything outside the off-stump, faced 273 deliveries, hitting nine fours, while Saxena, who registered his tenth first class hundred, played 269 balls, hitting 16 boundaries in the process.
Tamil Nadu skipper Laxmipathy Balaji tried every bowling change he could have, using as many as eight bowlers, but without success.
Chopra clipped Balaji to the square leg fence for couple of boundaries. When Saxena's turn came, he too showed his intentions clear, driving the former India pacer to the on-side fence.
The former India Test opener showed lot of grit when he refused to leave the pitch after being hit below his left eye when Kaushik dug one short. Instead, after first aid he continued to defy the Tamil Nadu attack.
The trio of Balaji, Kaushik and V Yomahesh bowled 14 out of 25 maiden overs send down but their deliveries did not do much after pitching. In the whole day, the Rajasthan openers were only beaten four times.
Considering the slow nature of the pitch, left-arm spinner R Aushik Srinivas (30-11-55-0) and off-break bowler Sunny Gupta (13-1-40-0) bowled 43 overs among themselves, also without much success.
Rajasthan (1st innings):
Aakash Chopra not out 86
Vineet Saxena not out 120
Extras: (B-5, LB-5, W-2, NB-3) 15
Total: (For no loss in 90 overs) 221
Bowling: L Balaji 13-6-33-0, J Kaushik 18-6-20-0, V Y Mahesh 13-2-42-0, R Aushik Srinivas 30-11-55-0, Sunny Gupta 13-1-40-0, A Mukund 2-0-6-0, K Vasudevadas 1-0-5-0.