Bengaluru: Seen as a future India Test regular, Young Lokesh Rahul today cracked a memorable triple century - the first from Karnataka to achieve the feat in Ranji Trophy as well as first-class cricket - guiding his side to a mammoth total in their match against Uttar Pradesh here.
By stumps on the second day, the hosts declared their first innings at a formidable 719 for five in their Group A Ranji match at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
The 22-year-old Rahul showed tremendous character and discipline to make 337, spending 11 hours at the crease. He was finally caught by Mukul Dagar off left-arm spinner Ali Murtaza.
Rahul, who resumed his innings at the overnight score of 150, played his normal game, belting and blocking according to the merit of the balls.
Rahul scored the bulk of his runs against the spinners and, even as the visiting pacers bowled in the right areas initially, the prolific batsman never went into a shell.
"Early on, the pacers were bowling in good areas and it was difficult to score off them, but the wicket was easy to bat on and except in post-lunch session the wicket was two-paced and cracks opened up," Rahul told reporters after the day's play.
Rahul, who made a century against Australia in only his second Test in Sydney, scored 89 in the previous Ranji match against Baroda.
"The century which I got in Australia really helped me to gather confidence and carry it forward in the domestic season. Yeah, that really helped me - that makes me happy," Rahul said.
Rahul's innings, which was studded with 47 boundaries and four sixes, came off 448 balls. After Rahul went past Barrington Rolland's 283, he became the first Karnataka batsman to score a triple hundred in domestic cricket.
Rahul also became the highest scorer ever against Uttar Pradesh in first-class match after he went past 327 runs scored by Kedar Jadhav of Maharashtra.
Abrar Kazi also joined in the party, notching up his maiden century. He made an unbeaten 117 off 190 balls with the help of 14 fours and four sixes. He was involved in a 225-run partnership for the seventh wicket with Rahul.
The lacklustre Uttar Pradesh bowlers struggled to get wickets and conceded far too many runs.
They succeeded in seeing the back of Shreyas Gopal early on after he added two runs to his overnight 88.
Rahul and Chidambaram Gautam (57) then put on 105 runs partnership for the sixth wicket to take the game away from Uttar Pradesh, who are placed at the bottom of the points table.
After the departure of Gautam at 434 for six, Rahul figured in a double century stand with Kazi.
After the departure of Rahul, Karnataka lost Vinay Kumar (2) and Abhimanyu Mithun (8), prompting Vinay to declare the innings after crossing the 700 mark.
The most successful bowler for Uttar Pradesh was Praveen Kumar, who picked up five for 88 in 36 overs.