Jaipur: Defending champions Rajasthan dismissed Hyderabad for 349 on Monday to take a crucial 35-run lead and are looking set to take three points which will ensure that relegation is averted. Starting from 160 for 5, the visitors lost the wicket of B Sandeep in the first over of the day. He played back to the ball from Pankaj Singh which skidded after pitching and rapped on his pads.
Ashish Reddy, who grabbed a five-wicket haul on Sunday, was aggressive from the word go and unfurled a string of boundaries. He clouted Deepak Chahar for three boundaries in an over and later belted Aniket Choudhary through deep backward point and deep midwicket. Parth Jhala was dogged and held the one end firmly. He pinched singles with appreciable felicity and kept rotating the strike.
Ashish carved Ashok Menaria over cover for a six to notch up his half-century which came off 58 balls. He played another inside out shot in Menaria's next over sending the bowler to the deep cover boundary. But the left-arm spinner bounced back and dismissed him as he came down the track and tried to loft the ball over long but was held out in the deep by Chahar. Jhala completed his half-century by steering Pankaj to third man. At lunch, Hyderabad were 292 for 7.
Amol Shinde produced some sparkling strokes off Aniket Choudhary and Rituraj Singh after lunch and raced to 33 in quick time. Rituraj got his revenge by snaring Shinde for 33. The batsman went for the pull off a short ball which hurried onto him. He just managed to get an top edge and Riturah dived forward to take a very fine catch.
Meanwhile, Jhala continued to keep Rajasthan bowlers at bay and displayed robust temperament. He adopted a more enterprising approach and went for the shots cracking Pankaj for a straight drive and a deft cut. But the last two Hyderabad batsmen, MP Arjun and Anwar Ahmed, couldn't occupy the crease for too long and were prised out by Aniket and Rituraj respectively. Arjun was caught in front of the wickets while Anwar was castled off an in-dipper. Jhala remained unbeaten on 75.
Rajasthan lost their opener Sourabh Chauhan early in the second innings. He played on a delivery from Arjun which bounced more than he anticipated as he tried to cut. Vineet Saxena was in fluent touch and played some delightful strokes - a straight drive and stunning cut off Ashish - while Robin Bist too looked solid. He produced a couple of superb pull shots and milked the bowlers with ease.
Both of them compiled a 82-run partnership before Bist was caught behind off Reddy. The ball nipped away from good length and took an outside edge of his bat as he pressed forward. Saxena cut Reddy in his next over to rack up his second half-century of the match. It took him 101 balls and he smacked 11 boundaries. Night watchman Rituraj was streaky as he was beaten outside the off stump a couple of times and an edge went between second slip and gully to the boundary.
Rajasthan were 103 for 2 when the day was called. Saxena and Rituraj were batting at 54 and 10 respectively.