They came, they suffered but they stayed. Rajasthan middle order batsmen Robin Bist and Rashmi Parida batted with grit when not many would have expected the hosts to hold their own against the Rest of India pace attack on the third day of the Irani Cup on Monday.
Rajasthan were still in trouble at 307 for 6 at stumps, trailing by 256 runs and yet to avert the follow on. However, Bist and Parida, despite being hit on their hand, put on 158 runs for the fourth wicket and fought hard for most of the day to deny the visitors a wicket in the first two sessions.
When the day began, Rajasthan were tottering at 53 for 3. Pacers Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron and Vinay Kumar had their tails up. Kumar and Yadav started the proceedings and maintained a consistent line and length. The Rest of India were almost rewarded in the fifth over but skipper and 'keeper Parthiv Patel dropped Parida on 2 off Yadav, who did not add to the two wickets he took on Sunday but constantly troubled the batsmen. Parida was let off again on 28, when Abhinav Mukund at backward point failed to hold a top edge off Pragyan Ojha.
The only other occasions Rest got excited during the first two sessions were when Vinay Kumar hit Parida and Bist on their knuckles. But both were resilient and patient as they played on the merit of the delivery.
Rest of India broke the stand after tea when Parida paid the price for a lapse in concentration, edging Vinay Kumar to be pouched in the slips by Manish Pandey. Bist, who dropped anchor when Parida took the initiative to score against some fiery stuff from the pacers, with many deliveries rising from the good length spot due to uneven bounce.
He was building another partnership with young left-hander Ashok Menaria when Ojha managed to induce him to nick one. Parthiv Patel didn't make a mistake this time, to leave Bist runs away from a deserved century.
"The wicket was not an easy one to bat on but I batted well. However, I am disappointed to miss the century," he said. Bist along with Menaria added 67 runs for the fifth wicket. Next man in, Rohit Jhalani was out soon after as he played on one from Vinay Kumar.
Menaria also took a few blows on the hand but batted aggressively to complete his fifty and was unbeaten on 59. Deepak Chahar was with him at the end of play.