Struggling for a breakthrough innings since scoring his only first-class century two years ago, doubts were creeping into Robin Bist's mind. It was getting tough, and the 24-year-old left-handed batsman admitted that he was not making things easier for himself by getting bogged down and becoming too anxious.
Bist, however, ended that drought on Friday by scoring a patient 167 to give champions Rajasthan the opportunity to push Railways towards their third successive defeat in the Ranji Trophy Super League Group 'A'.
Having walked into bat in the first over on Thursday, Bist and the more aggressive Ashok Menaria amassed 398 runs together, a record for the third wicket for Rajasthan. Menaria, having scored his century overnight, finished on 230.
Railways paid the price for dropping both batsmen on Day 1 and had to wait till they were eventually dismissed while going for quick runs. Railways medium-pacer Anureet Singh finished with five for 153 but it would not have given him much joy as both catches were dropped off his bowling.
Rajasthan declared their first innings at 521 for eight, and left Railways, thrashed by Mumbai and Karnataka at home, to again wage a grim battle as they finished Day 2 on 32 for 1.
Menaria was confident Rajasthan could force victory on a Karnail Singh Stadium pitch that was deteriorating and the ball was keeping low, making batting tougher by the session. "I had been searching for this hundred for two years and the anxiety was building up," said a relieved Bist, whose 482-ball knock contained 14 fours and two sixes and lasted almost nine-and-half hours. The Delhi-born Bist, like Menaria, had asked for his scores to be taken off the scoreboard on Thursday to focus better.