Young Rajat Patidar showed character to register his third first-class century as Madhya Pradesh tightened their grip on Bengal by the end of the third day in the Ranji Trophy quarter-final at the Brabourne Stadium, in Mumbai, on Friday.
Patidar, who scored an impressive 137 off 251 balls laced with 19 fours and a six, was largely responsible for MP's end-of-day second innings score of 338 for 5, which gave them an imposing overall lead of 565 with two more days left in the match.
The 22-year-old one-down batsman, playing only his fifth first-class game of his fledgling career, was unruffled even as MP lost their openers on Friday morning with only 43 on board.
Patidar, who came into the game after hitting tons against Baroda and Railways in the league phase, was involved in two century stands, for the third and fourth wickets, with senior partners Naman Ojha (52)and captain Devendra Bundela (72), who both completed their second individual fifties in the match.
But for a miracle, MP should sail through to the semi-finals with an outright victory after being denied such the distinction narrowly last season when Bengal escaped with two wickets still standing after following-on.
After being bowled out for a meagre 121 in the first essay to concede a big 227-run lead, Bengal needed to skittle out their opponents cheaply in the second innings, but Patidar, Naman Ojha and Bundela dashed their hopes.
Bengal got rid of overnight unbeaten openers Jalaj Saxena and Aditya Shrivastava early in the morning after MP resumed at 14 without loss, but then successive partnerships of 141 for the third wicket and 114 for the fourth took the game beyond their reach.
Patidar was finally dismissed by Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary after his frontline bowlers failed to dislodge the youngster.
At stumps, Harpreet Singh Bhatia (18) and Ankit Dane (14) were at the crease.
Madhya Pradesh 348 and 338 for 5 (R Patidar 137, N Ojha 52, D Bundela 72, H S Bhatia 18 not out, A Dane 14 not out).