Double delight for Vijay

Opener shines as Rest tighten grip on match
Last Updated : 23 September 2012, 17:10 IST
Last Updated : 23 September 2012, 17:10 IST

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Some strikingly familiar images surfaced at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on the third day of the Irani Cup match on Sunday.

Rest of India batsmen compiled big runs against a rudderless Rajasthan bowling attack, and M Vijay was in the forefront of their charge, making 266. His knock, the highest in the history of the Irani Cup, eclipsing the 240 made by Praveen Amre against Bengal in 1990, powered Rest to a mountainous 607 for seven declared for an innings lead of 354 runs.

Then Ishant Sharma started Rest’s wicket-hunt, evicting opener Ankit Lamba, also giving an indication of a fourth-day finish to the match. Rajasthan ended the day at 43 for one, and they still need 311 runs to make Rest of India bat again.

Rest of India retaining the Irani Cup was a certainty at the end of the second day itself, and on this day they moved to a realm beyond the reach of their opponents. For the second successive day, Vijay was the leader of their forward movement.

The Tamil Nadu right-hander was determined to convert his overnight score – 151 – into something even bigger, and a flick off the pads off left-arm seamer Aniket Choudhary in the first session of the day revealed his intent. Bowling from over the wicket, Choudhary managed to bring the ball back to Vijay, and nano-seconds before the cherry made contact with the pads that would have won him a leg-before shout, the right-hander flicked it to the square leg area for a boundary.

The shot had everything – elegance, technical perfection, sheer contempt for the bowler and above all it carried Vijay’s burning desire. Like in the previous day, Vijay also ensured that he would stitch together some good stands with his partners.

Vijay was involved in two century partnerships with Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara on Saturday, and on this day he added one more to the list, milking 141 with State-mate Subramanium Badrinath, who made a scratchy 55, for the third wicket besides a 63-run alliance with another Tamil Nadu man Dinesh Karthik, who went on to make a smooth 56, for the fourth-wicket.

Another important aspect of Vijay’s innings was the amount of time he spent at the crease – 618 minutes to be precise. It was a tremendous effort by a batsman who was playing a five-day game after nearly a year.

Vijay, understandably, was chuffed with his effort. “The most pleasing factor about my innings is the time I spent in the middle. I was working on my endurance for a while now, and it’s nice to see my efforts coming off,” Vijay said.

However, a streak of impatience ended Vijay’s stay that looked primed to reach a rare milestone – a triple hundred. Perhaps, in his hurry to move closer to the mark, Vijay tried to send Madhur Khetri to the long-on stand, but couldn’t get the desired distance as Gajendra Singh held on to a good catch.

“At that time, I just wanted to move near 300, and then try to reach the score. But I couldn’t do it, and at that time I was not worried about it, but, yes, now I am a bit disappointed,” Vijay said.

But his long vigil by then had ensured a firm upper hand for Rest of India. The lone point of interest on the fourth day is how far Rajasthan can extend their innings, and a pitch that’s increasingly keeping low would only make their task tougher.

Published 23 September 2012, 17:10 IST

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