What Robin Bist did, K.L. Rahul did better. Bist built his century with patience to give Central Zone an outside chance of a victory. Rahul, however, toyed with the attack; his effortless century set up South Zone’s push for a win nicely on day four of their Duleep Trophy cricket final at the Ferozeshah Kotla on Saturday.
If the trophy does head South, credit would be due to this brilliant Karnataka batsman who has walked into the good books of the National selectors. His second century of the match made light of the target of 301 that South was set on the fourth day. At close, it was 117 runs away with nine wickets in hand.
Bist fought a tactical battle, picking his bowlers to score off. Rahul (121 batting, 12×4, 5×6) meanwhile was in a hurry to finish the job, and equally convincing and sure of his target.
Bist notched-up a century after missing out in the first innings while Rahul produced an encore that was superior in terms of craftsmanship.
Rahul clearly looks a batsman for all seasons, turfs and opposition. Nothing perturbed him this afternoon. Not that Bist was lacking when scripting the Central comeback.
Bist’s century (174 balls, eight fours and two sixes) was a quality product but Rahul’s was a process galloping towards its destination, every moment spent at the crease giving his batting tremendous momentum, making a mockery of a first-class opposition.
Central literally ran into an immensely determined and gifted match-winner. It was tough to contain Rahul, who picked gaps and scored at will.
He scattered the field, with five men on the fence, repeatedly with his silken drives and some rasping reverse sweeps. The day’s story revolved around Bist and then shifted to Rahul, who strode on the stage like a champion, leaving South in sight of a comfortable win.
Central Zone — 1st innings: 276.
South — 1st innings: 379.
Central — 2nd innings: Faiz Fazal c Aparajith b Vinay 72, Jalaj Saxena lbw b Ojha 71, Robin Bist (not out) 112, Naman Ojha c Uthappa b Gopal 27, Ashok Menaria lbw b Gopal 0, Mahesh Rawat lbw b Ojha 16, Arindam Ghosh st Karthik b Ojha 22, Piyush Chawla st Karthik b Aparajith 0, Ali Murtaza c Karthik b Mithun 50, Ishwar Pandey b Gopal 17, Pankaj Singh c Aparajith b Gopal 6; Extras (b-6, lb-2, nb-2): 10; Total (in 105.5 overs): 403.
Fall of wickets: 1-128, 2-160, 3-195, 4-201, 5-219, 6-259, 7-260, 8-364, 9-397.
South bowling: R. Vinay Kumar 17-1-91-1, A. Mithun 16-1-64-1, Pragyan Ojha 36-9-99-3, S. Gopal 14.5-2-60-4, H.S. Sharath 13-3-46-0, B. Aparajith 9-2-35-1.
South — 2nd innings: Robin Uthappa c and b Chawla 30, K.L. Rahul (batting) 121, Baba Aparajith (batting) 30; Extras (lb-3): 3; Total (for one wkt in 44 overs): 184.
Fall of wicket: 1-96.
Central bowling: Pankaj Singh 11-3-27-0, Ishwar Pandey 9-2-40-0, Ali Murtaza 7-1-31-0, Jalaj Saxena 8-0-32-0, Piyush Chawla 8-0-51-1, Ashok Menaria 1-1-0-0.