In four seasons with Railways, wicketkeeper Mahesh Rawat had not converted any of his 11 half-centuries into triple figures. The Haryana-born wicketkeeper made amends in style, scoring a superb 145 on Sunday to help Railways pull off a coup by clinching the first innings lead against champions Rajasthan in their Super League Group 'A' tie at the Karnail Singh Stadium.
The 26-year-old's 196-ball innings, studded with 21 fours, complemented the team's slow accumulators and shut out the Rajasthan bowlers, particularly pace spearhead Pankaj Singh, who went wicketless in his 38 overs. Rajasthan, nursing victory hopes coming into the final day, welcomed a clear sky while the haze delayed play between Delhi and Tamil Nadu at the Ferozshah Kotla.
Railways, 274 for four overnight in reply to Rajasthan's first innings 521 for eight declared, eventually clinched the lead in the last session (525/8 declared).
Rawat shared a crucial 153-run fifth wicket partnership with veteran Yere Goud, who ground out 70 in almost six hours, and added 90 runs for the next wicket with M Suresh. Hopes rose again for Rajasthan when Rawat fell with Railways needing 33 more for the lead. But Railways, whose four batsmen made fifties or more, found the man of the hour in Suresh, who was undefeated on 61 when the hosts squeaked through.
It was a big boost for Railways but Rajasthan were left to rue their poor bowling performance as leggie Vivek Yadav, who took six wickets, found little support at the other end. To make matters worse, Railways reduced Rajasthan to 21 for four in their second innings before play was called off.
Brief Scores: Rajasthan 521-8 decl & 21-4 v Rlys 525/ 8 decl (Mahesh Rawat 145; Vivek Yadav 6-134).