Bengal right-hander Abhimanyu Easwaran staked his claim for a place in the senior side with a 153-run knock as India Red marched towards the title by building a 114-run lead over India Green at stumps on day three of the Duleep Trophy on Friday.
Easwaran (153 off 300 balls; 16x4s, 2x6s) added 51 runs to his overnight score as India Red finished the day at 345 for 6 in 116 overs in reply to India Green's first innings score of 231 in 72.1 overs.
Aditya Sarvate (30 batting) and Jaydev Unadkat (10 batting) were at the crease at the draw of stumps.
Resuming at the overnight score of 175 for 2, opener Easwaran led the India Red reply with a fine display of batting.
He added five more to his tally of 11 boundaries and was involved a 101-run stand for the third wicket with Ankit Kalsi (30 off 133 balls, 3x4s).
Young Mahipal Lomror (15) added 24 runs with Easwaran before falling to Ankit Rajpoot (3/77).
Easwaran himself fell to Tanveer ul-Haq after India Red extended their lead to 34 runs.
The dashing Ishan Kishan hit six boundaries in his knock of 39 off 56 balls but snicked one to wicketkeeper Akshay Wadkar off Rajpoot, just when he looked good for more. He added 61 runs with Sarwate for the sixth wicket.
The lanky Rajpoot was the best bowler for India Green, capturing three wickets including that of Easwaran but the others could not make much of an impression on the rival batsmen.
Earlier, leggie Mayank Markande came to India Green's rescue with the bat with a gutsy knock of 76 not out (121 balls) to help India Green reach 231 after being 112 for 8 at one stage.
India Green 1st Innings: 231 all out in 72.1 overs (Mayank Markande 76 not out, Ankit Rajpoot 30; Jaydev Unadkat 4/58, Sandeep Warrier 2/38, Avesh Khan 2/56)
India Red 1st Innings: 345 for 6 in 116 overs (Abhimanyu Easwaran 153, Ishan Kishan 39, Priyank Panchal 33; Aditya Sarvate 30 batting, Ankit Rajpoot 3/77, M Markande 1/24, Tanveer ul-Haq 1/63).