Jaipur: Missing out on a big score regularly during the last season, Rashmi Ranjan Parida, the Rajasthan middle order batsman, is a relieved man on Sunday, as he were not just able to score a century after 18 first-class matches, but his knock also helped his side take the all-important first innings lead in their Ranji Trophy game against the visiting Madhya Pradesh.
"I am very relieved today as I was waiting for this century for a long time. It was playing on my mind," Parida said after the day's play at the KL Saini Stadium where Rajasthan reached 306 for 6 in their first innings at stumps on day two, leading MP by 50 runs.
Parida, the former Orissa and Assam batsman, played some delectable strokes during his 108-run knock. He started his innings with a couple of drives through covers and, as he grew in confidence, played some shot down the ground too, including a straight six off left-arm spinner Rameez Khan.
The 35-year-old went 18 matches without a three-figure mark before scoring one against Madhya Pradesh on Sunday.
It's Parida's partnerships – 85 with Robin Bist, 50 with Puneet Yadav, and 82 with Dishant Yagnik (82) – that helped Rajasthan getting the crucial lead and the veteran batsman heaped praise on his younger team-mates.
"My partnership with Bist was very crucial as we were looking to build a platform then. When Bist got out Puneet played some attacking strokes and that eased some pressure off me. He was unfortunate to get out but Dishant too batted very well," he said.
Parida said if the team's lower order was able to extend the lead between 150 and 200 then they have a good chance to achieve a victory. "All of our remaining batsmen are very capable and we are hoping them to extend our lead close to 200. If we get that, our chance for a victory will improve," Parida said.
Bist, who made 85 on Sunday, termed Parida as his "idol in domestic cricket" and someone whom he had always considered as his "lucky mascot". "He has been that lucky mascot for me. Whenever we bat together, I tend to do well. I have always considered him as my idol in domestic cricket."
Ishwar Pandey, who has been the most successful bowler for MP so far in the game, picking up 4 for 65, said they bowled well only in patches. "We didn't bowl in the right areas consistently and that had cost us dearly today," he said.
"Our plan today was to bowling on one side of the wicket which we couldn't implement properly," Pandey added.