Jaipur: An inspired bowling from medium pacers Rituraj Singh and Pankaj Singh helped Rajasthan take the honours on day one of their Ranji Trophy match against Madhya Pradesh here on Saturday.
Both the pacemen picked up four wickets each, while left-arm pacer Aniket Choudhary also chipped in with two wickets after the home team elected to field, with Vineet Saxena leading the side in place of regular skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar, who was unavailable due to calf injury.
MP's middle and lower order, however, showed the will to fight, with Rameez Khan (54) and skipper Devendra Bundela (53) leading the way with half-centuries, while Anand Rajan (45) and Jalaj Saxena (35) also making useful contributions.
Pankaj and Rituraj Singh took four wickets each, while Aniket Choudhary also chipped in with two wickets as MP bowled out for 256.
At stumps, Rajasthan were 7 for 1 with openers Ankit Lamba getting dismissed in the last over of the day, while Vineet remaining unbeaten on two.
Earlier, Rajasthan's new ball bowlers - Pankaj and Rituraj - made an immediate impact on a pitch that had a greenish look to it, beating the batsmen outside their off stump regularly. Rituraj provided Rajasthan an early breakthrough when he had Naman Ojha (5) caught behind. The visitors had only added five runs to their total when Rituraj got Zafar Ali (14) caught by wicketkeeper Dishant Yagnik.
The medium pacer reaped rewards for maintaining a tight line, when he castled Satyam Choudhary (6) to a fuller ball. Udit Birla too didn't last long as he was bowled for a duck by left-arm pacer Aniket.
Having lost four wickets in the first hour of play, MP looked down and out until Bundela got involved in two important stands - 40 with Anand Singh and 46 with Jalaj for the fifth and sixth wickets respectively. Anand was bowled by Rituraj, while Bundela survived a tough chance when a thick outside edge passed the third slip for four off Pankaj as MP went for lunch at 90 for 5.
Runs came through edges past slips early in the afternoon session as the pitch, as expected, eased out. Jalaj played some exquisite cover drives before he was caught behind poking at an Aniket delivery.
Bundela, meanwhile, completed his fifty but was trapped right in front by Pankaj soon after. The visitors were at 171 for 7 at Tea, with Anand joining Rameez. The two kept the tired Rajasthan bowlers at bay after the break as they kept punishing the loose balls.
Rameez got to his half-century with a glide past the gully for four, while Anand too played a few attacking strokes. The new ball, which was taken as soon as it was available, did the trick for Rajasthan as Pankaj provided the wickets of two set batsmen. The medium pacer first got Rameez caught down the leg side for 54 and then had Rajan caught for 45 at first slip. He ended the visitors' innings by uprooting the stumps of No. 11 Ishwar Pandey.