Well-crafted half-centuries by Prashant Awasthi and Mahesh Rawat helped Railways gain the first innings lead against Bengal on the second day of the Ranji Trophy Super League Group A match at the Karnail Singh Stadium here on Thursday.

The home batsmen showed a lot of determination in their mission to overhaul Bengal's first innings total of 201. Awasthi (73, 137b, 204m, 7x4) and Rawat (52, 102b, 155m, 5x4) led the run chase to guide Railways to 250 for six for a lead of 49 runs at draw of stumps.

The best thing about Awasthi's innings was his calm approach. For a rookie coming in at two down for 55, it required a lot of focus on the part of the 20-year-old.

He did not lose his composure even though Railways lost the wickets of skipper Sanjay Bangar (29, 67b, 113m, 5x4, 1x6) and Karan Sharma (13) to be 103 for four at one stage.

Sound footwork

With the track testing his skills, Awasthi relied on sound footwork and played with a straight bat. He nicely worked the ball into the gaps and ran hard for his runs.

The boy from Kanpur flourished when he got his room-mate Rawat as partner. Awasthi, who made his debut against Mumbai this season, struck Ashok Dinda for a straight boundary and played a lofty shot to the mid-wicket fence to reach his second half-century. He added 81 runs for the fifth wicket with Rawat.

“My plan was to stick to the basics without thinking too much. It would have been nice to get a hundred,” said Awasthi, who missed the line to be adjudged leg before off left-arm spinner Ires Saxena.

Effortless

Rawat was his typical effortless self and played his shots on merit. He became the second victim of Saxena before putting on 53 runs with Dhiran Salvi (35 batting, 91b, 5x4, 1x6).

The Bengal team, which was charged up in the first session with Sourav Ganguly deciding the field placements, gradually lost steam with Railways batsmen inching closer to the 200-run mark.

Medium pacer Laxmi Ratan Shukla, arguably the best of the visiting bowlers, deserved more. He troubled the batsmen with his swing and bagged the wickets of Shreyas Khanolkar and Karan Sharma.

“Now we have to catch up. For that, we have to get them out quickly,” said Bengal coach W.V. Raman.

The scores: Bengal — 1st innings: 201.

Railways — 1st innings: F. Fazal c M. Tiwary b R. Bose 7, S. Khanolkar b L.R. Shukla 26, S. Bangar lbw b A. Dinda 29, P. Awasthi lbw b I. Saxena 73, K. Sharma b L.R. Shukla 13, M. Rawat c D. Chakaborty b I. Saxena 52, D. Salvi (batting) 35, J.P. Yadav (batting) 8; Extras (b-4, lb-1, nb-2): 7, Total (for six wkts, 90 overs): 250.

Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-55, 3-73, 4-103, 5-184, 6-237.

Bengal bowling: R. Bose 13-5-33-1, A. Dinda 15-2-55-1, I. Saxena 27-5-59-2, L.R. Shukla 13-5-25-2, S. Lahiri 18-4-50-0, A. Majumdar 2-0-17-0, M. Tiwary 2-0-6-0.

Keywords: Ranji Trophy

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