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Rajasthan retain Ranji Trophy on first innings lead

Last updated on: January 23, 2012 18:21 IST

Rajasthan completed formalities on the fifth and final day to successfully defend the Ranji Trophy by virtue of the first-innings lead against Tamil Nadu, at the Chepauk, in Chennai, on Monday.

The match was dead as a contest on the fourth day itself, when Rajasthan gained a huge 326-run first innings lead.

Rajasthan walked away with a winners' cheque of Rs 2 crore, while Tamil Nadu got half that amount.

With only academic interest left in the match, Rajasthan declared at 204 for five in the second innings, leaving Tamil Nadu to bat out a few mandatory overs which would have ended the drudgery.

The match was called off after the hosts scored eight runs for the loss of two wickets in 13 overs.

The man who played a huge hand in turning a bunch of also-rans into a gutsy domestic outfit is undoubtedly captain Hrishikesh Kanitkar.

With back-to-back domestic titles under his belt, Kanitkar will now certainly be remembered as one of the finest domestic captains in recent times rather than a 'one-shot wonder' which was his claim to fame for past 12 years.

Kanitkar, who became a journeyman cricketer six seasons back when his own state Maharashtra dumped him, though, admitted that the title should be attributed to "a bit of luck and loads of hardwork" that his boys put in.

"It's an amazing feeling. At the group stage, we had a few results going our way. We won a few matches and then a combination of favourable results got us in the knock-out. We played superb cricket after that," Kanitkar said.

For the 37-year-old Kanitkar, the biggest satisfaction has been winning all the away matches in the knock-out stage.

Rajasthan beat Hyderabad in the latter's den while they won their semi-final against Haryana at Lahli which has always been considered as a tough proposition. And the icing on the cake was beating Tamil Nadu at the Chepauk.

"It means a lot to me as we have won a quite a few away games. We have stuck to a plan and got the results. Also the bench strength has been great. A youngster like Rituraj Singh has been a revelation and our coach Amit Asawa and the rest of the support staff, the managers have all contributed to this success," Kanitkar said.

Even rival captain Laxmipathy Balaji was graceful in defeat as he conceded that Rajasthan were deserving winners.

"We were definitely not up to the mark in the final. The pitch was a bit slow, but no complaints. I have never been a firm believer that toss can be a deciding factor. It all depends on skill and the better team won.

"But it has been a very good journey and we can take a lot of positives from the tournament. R Aushik Srinivas has come up well and he will certainly a learn a lot more in the years to come."

Man of the match Vineet Saxena said that his double century couldn't have come at a better time than in the finals.

"Full credit to Tamil Nadu bowlers as they didn't give away any easy runs. We had a good opening partnership. Our plan was to stay at the wicket and bat as long as possible. We knew that if we can bat long enough, it will be an advantage when we are bowling second. This has been my best season and this knock was a special one as I got it in the finals."


Rajasthan (1st innings): 621

Tamil Nadu (1st innings): 295

Rajasthan (2nd innings): (Overnight 21-0)
A Chopra c & b Kaushik 18
V Saxena b Prasanna 13
R Bist c Mukund b Prasanna 92
H Kanitkar lbw b Vijay 12
R Parida not out 43
Puneet Yadav b Prasanna 0
D Yagnik not out 9
Extras (B-15, NB-2) 17
Total (in 77 overs) 204 for 5, dec

Fall of wickets: 1-29, 2-52, 3-93, 4-174.

Bowling: J Kaushik 11-3-38-1, VY Mahesh 7-3-20-0, R Aushik Srinivas 28-10-61-0, R Prasanna 21-9-31-3, M Vijay 9-0-38-1, A Mukund 1-0-1-0.

Tamil Nadu (2nd innings): (target: 531 runs)
VY Mahesh lbw b G Singh 0
A Mukund lbw b G Singh 1
K Vasudevadas not out 7
S Badrinath not out 0
Total (in 13 overs) 8 for 2
Fall of wickets 1-0, 2-7.

Bowling:  G Singh 6-5-5-2, R Bist 6-4-3-0, Puneet Yadav 1-1-0-0.

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