Even Robin Bist would agree that the unbeaten 112 in the second innings of the Duleep Trophy final is one of his best in first class cricket. Having fallen on 79 to a soft dismissal in the first innings, a century was something that Bist wanted very badly. With Central Zone looking at a big score to throw down a challenge to South Zone, Bist remained a mystery that the opposition failed to solve.
He timed the ball perfectly; shouldered arms to the good ball initially, attacked spinners with gusto and most importantly, put a price on his wicket, especially after Central Zone had lost half the side. Bist’s stand was all the more important because it was his runs that would give Central another go at South in search of an outright win.
Unbeaten overnight on 26, Bist lost the company of Mahesh Rawat early in the day. But he did not change his approach. With Arindam Ghosh by his side, he took on the bowlers as the wicket had very little to offer to the pacers. Ghosh’s dismissal brought Ali Murtaza to the crease and signalled the advent of Central Zone’s tail.
It also meant Bist would now have to play his strokes as well as mentor Murtaza through the innings. Bist’s guidance enabled Murtaza to flash his bat around confidently, even if it beat two slips and a gully for boundaries. Against spinners, Murtaza would often jump out and keep the scoreboard ticking. During the lunch break Bist was on 87 and Central had accumulated a lead of 241.
At 94, he stepped out to Abhimanyu Mithun and sent the ball over the long-on fence for a six. Bist thanked the heavens for a well deserved ton and went back to his job, helping Central set up a target of 300 runs.