Bengal snatched a slender three-run lead in the first innings helped by a fiery spell from its pace spearhead Ashoke Dinda, who cleaned out the Railways tail on the third day of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal at the Eden Gardens here on Friday.
Apart from the vicissitudes of cricketing action, the day had its share of controversy which reached its peak when the umpires decided to change the ball after warning the Railways for tampering with it.
In a further twist to the day, Bengal’s joy of earning the first innings lead was soured by an early collapse of its top order in the second innings.
Finally, a 93-run unbeaten partnership between captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla and the wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha stemmed the slide as the host ended the day on 133 for four.
Railways saw its huge sixth-wicket partnership between Mahesh Rawat and Arindam Ghosh ending prematurely in the morning.
The two could add just 27 runs to their overnight tally of 191 runs before Rawat (119) edged one behind unable to judge a quicker delivery from Bengal medium-pacer Shib Sankar Paul. Rawat’s early dismissal — which ended the 218-run (325 balls) partnership — in the eighth over of the morning broke Railways’ resolve as Dinda arrived to end the visitors’ hopes of a lead.
The Railways innings ended at 314 as the out-of-favour India pacer picked up three wickets to complete a six-wicket haul.
Dinda picked up the last three wickets of the day after Sourav Sarkar got Railways captain Kartik Murali (23) caught behind to see Railways reeling at 285 for seven. Dinda earned the prized wicket of Arindam Ghosh (97), who, with Rawat, had scripted the comeback, before removing the two bowlers Krishnakant Upadhyay and Ranjitkumar Mali in alternate overs.
The bowlers’ dominance continued in the Bengal second innings as the Railways pacer Anureet Singh tore through the Bengal top-order. Anureet, who had a haul of four wickets in the first innings, picked up three Bengal wickets in his second essay to have the host reeling at 40 for four. Laxmi Ratan Shukla (63 batting) and Wriddhiman Saha (30 batting) held up Bengal’s hopes with their unbeaten 93-run stand.
Bengal — 1st innings: 317.
Railways — 1st innings: Shivakant Shukla lbw b Paul 6, Amit Paunikar b Dinda 12, Nitin Bhille c Saha b Dinda 20, Rongsen Jonathan c Easwaran b Paul 0, Arindam Ghosh lbw b Dinda 97, Karn Sharma c Saha b Dinda 4, Mahesh Rawat c Saha b Paul 119, Kartik Murali c Saha b Sarkar 23, Anureet Singh (not out) 18, Krishnakant Upadhyay b Dinda 2, Ranjitkumar Mali c & b Dinda 4; Extras (lb-8, w-1): 9; Total (in 93.3 overs): 314.
Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-28, 3-38, 4-38, 5-42, 6-260, 7-285, 8-296, 9-307, 10-314.
Bengal bowling: Ashoke Dinda 28.3-5-105-6, Sourav Sarkar 24-6-83-1, Laxmi Ratan Shukla 13-2-36-0, Shib Sankar Paul 21-7-47-3, Saurasish Lahiri 3-0-19-0, Wrttick Chatterjee 4-0-16-0.
Bengal — 2nd innings: Abhimanyu Easwaran b Anureet Singh 0, Arindam Das c Rawat b Upadhyay 5, Subhomoy Das b Anureet Singh 19, Sudip Chatterjee c Paunikar b Anureet Singh 8,Wriddhiman Saha (batting) 30, Laxmi Ratan Shukla (batting) 63; Extras (b-4, nb-4): 8; Total (for four wkts in 51 overs): 133.
Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-7, 3-24, 4-40.
Railways bowling: Anureet Singh 19-7-41-3, Krishnakant Upadhyay 15-6-33-1, Ranjitkumar Mali 12-3-46-0, Karn singh 5-1-9-0.