New Delhi: The Ranji Trophy has always been about unknowns looking to make an impact or big guns striving get back their national caps. While the latter grabs headlines, it’s the former which gets lost among the scorecards and newspaper reports. On another such day under the canvas of Ranji cricket at the storied Feroz Shah Kotla, a little-known player from Baroda emerged through the crowd to get his photograph clicked. He was the short and stoic Rakesh Solanki.
With only one half-century in his last four innings, this top-order batsman from Baroda wanted the rub of the green to go in his favour on Tuesday, in an Elite Division match against Delhi. He seemed to have woken up on the right side of bed and proceeded to make hey as the sun shone over the Kotla on a balmy winter’s day.
Two lifelines were enough to let Solanki know that it was his day, at the end of which he stood tall with an unbeaten 109. As soon as he walked to the crease, Solanki was woken up when he was dropped, depriving Delhi Ashish Nehra of a second wicket. The left-hander put the distraction aside by racing to his half-century in 69 balls.
If the first jolt wasn’t enough, Solanki had another slice of luck when Shikhar Dhawan put him down, this time on 50. That, however, was as close as Delhi got to dislodging Solanka. He buckled down and didn’t look back after that en route to his fifth century.
"I was looking to score a big score and the two lifelines I got certainly helped me doing that," said the 26-year-old batsman after taking Baroda to 273 for 3 at the end of day's play. “The ball was moving a bit in the morning, so I just wanted to bide my time early on in the innings. We will try to go past 400 first,.”
Mithun Manhas, the Delhi skipper, was certainly not happy with the 'green Kotla deck' and rued the two chances given to Solanki. “It certainly didn't turn out to be that green,” he said. “Our bowlers provided us early breakthroughs and had we grabbed those missed chances, the score would have read differently at the end of the day.”
Terming the early moisture on Wednesday crucial, Manhas called for his bowlers to bowl in the right areas and restrict the opposition to a target below 400.