Opener Lokesh Rahul continued his dream form as he blazed his way to a brilliant unbeaten 121 after a classy 185 in the first innings as South Zone looked in cruise control in pursuit of 301 against Central in the Duleep Trophy final in Delhi on Saturday.
At stumps on Day 4, South were 184 for one with Rahul looking composed during another impressive knock 5that came off 132 balls as he seems to have all but sealed the third opener's slot for the Test tour of Australia. Rahul struck 12 fours and five sixes.
South now require another 117 runs to lift the trophy.
There were two centuries on the day with Central's Robin Bist, batting with the tail, making a gutsy 112 not out.
Taking away no credit from Bist, the Karnataka youngster's innings was a notch above in terms of quality as he showed why former India captain Sourav Ganguly had rated him among the talented crop of Gen-Next batsman.
A man for big occasions, Rahul's two centuries in a Duleep Trophy final certainly consolidated his position as a probable selection candidate.
A target of 301 in the fourth innings was not easy, especially on a track where there were some cracks which were widening with passage of every over. But Rahul's technique looked compact and even more praiseworthy was his temprament during the last two sessions of the day. The intent was positive from the start and footwork immaculate.
In order to smother any turn, Rahul repeatedly came down the track to drive on either side of the wicket.
His lofted shots were regal as all the spinners, including Piyush Chawla, Ali Murtaza and Jalaj Saxena, were hit for sixes. All the shots were hit in the front arc. When Jalaj bowled full with a vacant point region, Rahul played back-to-back reverse sweeps.
Rahul finally completed his century by hitting Chawla over midwicket for a six.