Former India opener Aakash Chopra grafted his way to a patient unbeaten century to put Rajasthan on course for a huge first innings total against Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy semi-final, at the Sawai Mansingh stadium, in Jaipur on Monday.
Chopra slammed 13 boundaries in his unfinished 115-run innings and forged an 181-run partnership with Vineet Saxena (72) as the hosts ended Day 1 on 236 for 1.
Tamil Nadu skipper Dinesh Kartik's decision to invite Rajasthan to bat first backfired as openers Chopra and Saxena survived the initial overs to propel their team to a big total.
The chilly weather and the nip in the air helped the bowlers to get some early help but they failed to break Chopra and Saxena's concentration.
At stumps, night-watchman Vivek Yadav (1) was unbeaten with Chopra.
Chopra was a treat to watch. His compact defense, perfect balance and delicate timing were more than handful for the Tamil Nadu bowlers, who failed to extract much out the wicket.
Though the experienced Laxmipati Balaji, who started with a wide, did beat the willow a few times he couldn't get the breakthrough.
Chopra and Vineet executed few sweetly-timed boundaries and were associated in a 184-run opening wicket partnership.
Saxena was the first one to depart, when, trying to sweep spinner Suresh Kumar, he played down the wrong line and found his stumps uprooted. He made 72 runs off 204 deliveries and hit nine boundaries and one six.
Chopra remained as composed as ever to reach his third hundred of the season and was unbeaten on 115, off 252 balls; he hit 13 boundaries.
The visitors took the second new ball after 82 overs with Chopra on 109 and skipper Rishikesh Kanitkar, on 28, who had to retire hurt after an inner edge hit his ankle.
However, the injury doesn't seem too serious and Kanitkar should return to bat on Day 2.
Night-watchman Vivek and Chopra were at the crease when the umpires called it a day after 85 overs could be bowled.
Rajasthan (1st innings): 236 for one in 85 overs (Akash Chopra 115 not out; Suresh Kumar 1/81).