Jaipur: Mumbai's stand-in captain Rohit Sharma has admitted that he was foxed by the nature of the pitch at the KL Saini Stadium on the first day of their Ranji Trophy second round match against Rajasthan here on Friday.
"There was fair a amount of grass and moisture on the wicket in the morning so we opted to bowl first after winning the toss," Rohit told Cricketnext after Rajasthan piled up 269 for 2, riding on fine centuries by skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar and opener Vineet Saxena. "The ball did a bit in the first three overs but pitch flattened out after that. It's a completely placid wicket and considering that we haven't done too badly today. We would look to get a couple of quick wickets tomorrow and restrict Rajasthan to under 400."
Kanitkar, who cracked a his 32nd first-class century, looked pleased with his and the team's performance, and said that Rajasthan would look to build on the lead tomorrow. "I'm very satisfied with the performance we put up today. A total of 269 for 2 looks very goo at the end of day one. We have a slight edge over Mumbai at this point but there's a lot to be done yet. Our aim would be to chalk up as many runs as we can in the first innings and then try to put pressure on Mumbai batsmen."
About his fluent century, Kanitkar said that he felt confident when he came out to bat after the first wicket fell early. "Though it wasn't easy to bat in the first session as ball was seaming off the wicket, I was striking the ball well right from the word go. I picked the right balls to play the shots and fortunately they came off pretty well. Mumbai have a good bowling attack and it's a nice feeling scoring a ton against them."
Kanitkar was also glad to see Saxena back among runs and hailed him as a vital cog. "Saxena has done a tremendous job for the team in last two years. He has a lot of patience and doesn't give away his wicket once he gets his eye in. I'm sure he'll score big runs in this season as well."
For his part Saxena was relieved to have scored a hundred after a string of 20s and 30s. "After scoring 257 in the final of last season's Ranji Trophy, I couldn't convert my starts into big scores in few matches. I wasn't batting badly and taking good starts but somehow big scores eluded me. I was run out on a couple of occasions, while at times I got some outstanding deliveries which would have tested even the best of batsmen,” he said.
Saxena asserted that batting on this track was not as easy as it looks. "I know people are talking about it being a docile wicket but let me tell you that though there are no demons in the wicket, the pitch is not conducive for shot-making. The ball doesn't come onto the ball once the ball becomes a bit old and one has to be very patient. Fast bowlers are getting good purchase from the new ball," he concluded.