Jaipur: After ensuring they could not lose the Irani Cup outright to Rajasthan on the first day, Rest of India took a giant stride towards winning it outright on the second, continuing their commanding batting performance and making inroads with the new ball. Rest of India amassed 663 in the first innings after which they reduced Rajasthan to 53 for 3 by stumps in Jaipur.
The platform for Rest of India's mammoth first-innings score had been laid on the first day, when Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane scored centuries to lead their side to 400 for 3. Rahane continued Deepak Chahar's torment this morning, cutting his first ball to the point boundary. Three balls later Rahane dismissed another short delivery to the cover boundary. Chahar had been expensive and wicketless on the first day. He suffered a similar fate today, and ended with 0 for 168 in 35 overs.
Aniket Choudhary, on the other hand, gave Rajasthan a positive start, dismissing Parthiv Patel caught behind with the second new ball in the day's third over. Patel was gone for 55, his overnight score. There was no respite for Rajasthan, though, as a succession of batsmen - specialist and tailender - came in and contributed usefully to Rest of India's cause.
Rahane, on 152, was the next to fall, driving Sumit Mathur in the air to cover, leaving Rest of India on 489 for 5. Mandeep Singh then contributed 60 off 80 balls, fast bowlers Vinay Kumar and Varun Aaron made 40s, and legspinner Rahul Sharma blitzed 52 off 38 balls. Sharma's innings contained five sixes and served to pound an already weary Rajasthan team. Rest of India's innings ended on 663 just before the tea break, giving Rajasthan a session to bat after spending five in the field.
Rajasthan's start was in stark contrast to Rest of India's. While Dhawan and Mukund had raced yesterday morning, Aakash Chopra and Vineet Saxena were slow and cautious. They had scored only 7 off 6.5 overs when Saxena hit the first boundary. A couple of overs later, Saxena was gone, edging one that seamed away from Umesh Yadav to the wicketkeeper. Rajasthan were 25 for 1. Yadav found another edge, from the experienced Hrishikesh Kanitkar, to reduce Rajasthan to 44 for 2.
Chopra had battled patiently for his 20, hitting only three boundaries in 70 balls, but his vigil ended in the last over of the day. Pragyan Ojha had come on to bowl his left-arm spin and Chopra used his feet, mis-cueing the loft towards long-on where Yadav held the catch. The wicket capped a near-perfect day for Rest of India, and left Rajasthan needing a monumental effort to avoid the follow-on.