Chennai: Rajasthan are all set to retain the Ranji Trophy after ensuring a huge lead against hosts Tamil Nadu at stumps, on the fourth day of the final on Sunday.
Dinesh Karthik's scintillating effort of 150 wasn't matched by other Tamil Nadu batsmen as the hosts were bowled out for 295 thereby conceding a lead of 326 runs. The defending champions didn't enforce the follow-on and were 21 for no loss at stumps with their lead swelling to 347.
The final day's play has now been rendered inconsequential as the match as a contest is already over. Hrishikesh Kanitkar has now successfully led the team to successive national titles.
At stumps on day four, Rajasthan were 21/0 with an overall lead of 347 runs with 10 wickets in hand.
Tamil Nadu players on the other hand would certainly feel that they have lost their best chance to win the trophy. Especially, when they arguably had the best top-order line-up in domestic cricket. When it mattered the likes of Murali Vijay, Abhinav Mukund and S Badrinath failed to deliver.
It was always a difficult task for the hosts to come back from 66 for three but Karthik tried his best to delay the inevitable. In fact, he has now scored a century in two Ranji finals and yet ended on a losing side. Karthik who faced 280 balls hit 21 boundaries and a six.
Karthik hit some delightful strokes square of the wicket before he was the ninth Tamil Nadu batsman to be dismissed as he was played on off Sumit Mathur's delivery. It was a tired looking stroke as he didn't move to the pitch of the delivery and the ball took the inside edge as the off-stump went for a walk.
Earlier on day three, Vineet Saxena's maiden double-ton had taken Rajasthan to a mammoth first-innings score of 621. Saxena's 907-minute vigil was the second-longest in Ranji Trophy history and third-longest overall in first-class cricket.