Rajesh Bishnoi: We were hoping for a century from Ashok Menaria

The lack of big scores from its batsmen has hurt Rajasthan this season, admits Rajesh Bishnoi after play on day three against Andhra in the Ranji Trophy.

If Ashok Menaria and Rajesh Bishnoi had seen Rajasthan through to stumps, the day’s narrative would have been different. (Representative image).

The afternoon session on day three at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium here was a productive one for Rajasthan, but not adequate to steer the side away from the woods. Ashok Menaria and Rajesh Bishnoi oversaw a period of recovery after their side had been reduced to 96 for 5, but both fell by the evening, leaving the tail exposed in a Ranji Trophy game on Saturday.

Menaria played enterprisingly; he was not afraid to use his feet against the spinner – Shoaib Mohammed – and eager to capitalise on the odd loose delivery from the seamers. After spending some time in the crease, Bishnoi started scoring boundaries as well.

“As compared to the first day, the pitch wasn’t that alarming. It was getting better and we know that especially on the third and fourth day, this pitch is generally good for batting. Their spinner – [Shoaib Mohammed] – was also not creating too much pressure. At the same time, we needed to play positively because there weren’t many batsmen [to follow after us]. The odd ball is doing something; occasionally we were getting beaten. At the back of the mind, we had the pressure to [keep the scoreboard ticking],” Bishnoi told Sportstar at the end of day’s play.

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Bishnoi noticed Andhra’s bowlers attempted to dismiss only him. “After playing a few balls in the middle, obviously a batsman gains in confidence. Ashok scored some runs in the first innings as well, so he was more than confident and as a batsman he was in a good nick. The opponent didn’t look to get him out. They were more than happy to give him the single and put pressure on the next batsman. They were more or less looking only to get me out. They were not at all looking to get Ashok out. So that’s the pressure on them because according to them, he is the more assured batsman, with runs behind him. That’s how the game goes on,” he said.

If the two had seen their team through to stumps, the day’s narrative would have been different. Bishnoi fell soon after the partnership had reached 100, trapped lbw by C. V. Stephen, and soon after, Menaria departed as well, caught in the slips off the same bowler.

Bishnoi was distraught after getting out. Talking about his dismissal, he said, “[The ball] swung a bit but according to me, when I was playing the ball, maybe it pitched outside leg stump. At the same time, these are 50-50 decisions. Sometimes it goes in your favour, sometimes it goes in the opponents’ [favour], but it’s part and parcel. We need to take it in our stride and need to get better from here.”

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Andhra was quite pumped after Menaria got out. After all, he was Rajasthan’s last batsman left, and one who appeared to be able to handle easily all of Andhra’s bowlers. Moreover, he had runs under his belt.

“He [has been] in very good nick from the first match. It’s the third match and in every innings he has got starts but from the team point of view, we were all [hoping for him] to score 140 or 150, or maybe more. That’s what we are not getting as a team; we’re getting the 50s, 60s and 70s, but for a player of Ashok’s calibre, we’re looking for some more from him,” Bishnoi said.

It meant Rajasthan hadn’t been able to manage a single century after nearly three matches. Perhaps that could be a factor in the team’s lacklustre performance so far: two heavy defeats, and a likely third to arrive on Monday.

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