Saxena in select club now

Vineet Saxena made hay as the sun shone – literally – as he stroked his way to his highest first-class score at the MA Chidambaram stadium on Friday.

The 31-year-old opener has made it a habit of producing big runs on the big stage. His previous best first-class score of 143 came in last year’s Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against Mumbai in Jaipur. He went many better this time, finishing day two of this season’s final against Tamil Nadu on an unbeaten 207.

Saxena thus became only the 20th player to make a double hundred in the Ranji Trophy final, and the first since Rahul Dravid uncorked 215 in Karnataka’s victory over Uttar Pradesh in the 1997-98 season.

The right-hander also became only the second player from Rajasthan to make a double ton in the Ranji final, emulating Hanumant Singh’s feat in 1967-68. Saxena now has 834 runs this season, and his approach at the crease remarkably mirrored his opening partner Aakash Chopra, a methodical accumulator of runs.

Chopra was dismissed six short of his 30th first-class hundred after batting for nearly seven and a half hours and facing 307 deliveries. Saxena has been at the crease for three minutes shy of 12 and a half hours and negotiated a massive 555 deliveries during that period, most of them without any alarms.

Day two yielded the experienced batsman only 87 runs from 286 deliveries, but no one from the Rajasthan camp. “Vineet is fantastic, he's showed a lot of maturity,” Chopra gushed. “It’s a fantastic time to score his first double hundred. He's only the second guy from Rajasthan to score a double hundred, so he chose the occasion perfectly.

“We are all happy. Rajasthan cricket is all about Rajasthan local talent,” added Chopra of Saxena, who was born in Margao, played one season for the Railways but has grown up cutting his cricketing teeth in the state of palaces.

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