NEWTOWN Oval will forever hold a special place in the heart of Aditya Shrivastava, who treated fans to a masterful display of batting yesterday to put the visitors from Madhya Pradesh in the box seat to win the three-day clash against Wide Bay.
Showing tremendous poise and patience, the 21 year old brought up his century in the last over of the day before raising his bat to the applauding crowd.
The Indian under-22 side will be seeking 10 wickets on the final day for an outright victory after Madhya Pradesh, resuming at 0-59 in response to Wide Bay's 217, were 7-332 at stumps yesterday - a lead of 115.
Madhya Pradesh had major contributions from Siddharth Pamdar (39), Abhutosh Singh (39) and Parth Sahani (34), but it was Shrivastava's 101 off 166 balls that propelled the visitors past the 300-mark.
In an innings made up of delightful drives and lissom flicks, Shrivastava looked comfortable from the moment he stepped onto the crease, smashing 10 boundaries in his unbeaten knock.
"It was a good knock and I enjoyed it," Shrivastava told the Chronicle.
"We needed a good first innings lead to be strong in the match.
"Patience was the key because there were times they were bowling really well between the lunch and tea session, but I kept my calm and waited for the loose balls and I held onto them."
Shrivastava's fluidity, balance and nimble wrists at the crease dominated Wide Bay's bowlers, who tried everything but could not dislodge the stylish right-hander, who played the line and used his feet against the spinners.
After being sent in to bat, Wide Bay failed to take full advantage of the fast, bouncy pitch during the opening day on Saturday.
When Matt Fulton was caught for just one, the hosts were struggling on 4-65, but captain Paul Sanders (50) and Andy Batton (41) put on a valuable 85 runs for the fourth wicket.
It was the stand that looked to have turned the match back in Wide Bay's favour, but Madhya Pradesh spinner Saransh Jain (6-71) counter attacked by taking five of the last seven wickets as Wide Bay's lower order crumbled to 217 all out.
Sanders, of Maryborough, was all praise for Madhya Pradesh's two standout players.
"He (Shrivastava) played one of the best cover drives I have seen and their spinner (Jain) is a classy player and is going to be something special," he said.
Although Wide Bay has been far from disgraced, Sanders said they have been outclassed by a better team.
"They're definitely better than us, but I reckon we've given them a good crack and we haven't disgraced ourselves," he said.
"We held our own with the bat, but a couple of collapses put us on the back foot then today we took patches of wickets but didn't carry on and get three or four wickets at a time like they did."
Wide Bay's batsmen will need to dig deep when play resumes this morning with a draw their best hope before both teams meet in a one-day match tomorrow.
Madhya Pradesh 7-332 dec (A Shrivastava 101n.o, S Pamdar 39, A Singh 39; M Waters 33-9-62-2, D Krebs 18-7-50-1) lead Wide Bay 217 (P Sanders 50, A Batton 41, Z Keune 26; S Jain 26-6-71-6, P Datey 15.2-5-20-2)