Mahesh Rawat hit an unbeaten 105 to haul Railways out of trouble on the second day of its Ranji Trophy quarterfinal match against host Bengal at the Eden Gardens on Thursday.
Rawat’s belligerent knock saw him take on the dominating role in an unbroken 191-run sixth-wicket partnership with Arindam Ghosh, who remained unbeaten on 78, which bailed Railways out from an almost hopeless situation.
The visitors ended the day on 233 for five, still 84 runs short in the first innings.
After Bengal’s first innings folded for 317 within the first hour of play, for the addition of just 43 runs to its overnight score of 274 for eight, the Railways top order suffered a derailment at the very start of its innings.
With the Bengal pacers, led by Ashoke Dinda, making good use of the conditions, the Railways batting looked in a shambles at 42 for five. Dinda scalped three while the seasoned Shib Sankar Paul accounted for two.
Rawat, arriving at No. 7 after the fall of Karn Sharma in the 22nd over of the Railways innings, immediately stamped his presence by hitting Dinda for five consecutive boundaries.
When Dinda returned for the 24th over, Rawat took four off the very first ball, making it six boundaries off as many deliveries from the former Team India member.
Rawat blasted 18 boundaries and hoisted one into the stands as he raised his century in 117 balls.
Ghosh played the perfect foil to his assertive partner as he compiled a quiet innings of 78, taking up 167 balls with 11 boundaries to help the partnership grow in strength. Earlier, Bengal wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha’s fine knock of 87 helped his team past 300, recovering from a middle-order collapse after a bright start.
Bengal — 1st innings: Abhimanyu Easwaran c Rawat b Karn Sharma 65, Arindam Das b Anureet Singh 2, Subhomoy Das b Anureet Singh 0, Sudip Chatterjee c Rawat b Anureet Singh 96, Wriddhiman Saha c Kartik b Upadhyay 87, Laxmi Ratan Shukla c Rawat b Kartik 17, Writtick Chatterjee c Rawat b Anureet Singh 0, Saurasish Lahiri c Shukla b Kartik 2, Sourav Sarkar run out 4, Ashoke Dinda b Mali 17, Shib Sankar Paul (not out) 14; Extras (b-4, lb-3, w-2, nb-4): 13; Total (in 101.5 overs): 317.
Fall of wickets: 1-3, 2-3, 3-166, 4-190, 5-211, 6-212, 7-217, 8-233, 9-279.
Railways bowling: Anureet Singh 32.2-6-88-4, Krishnakant Upadhyay 23.5-6-70-1, Ranjit Mali 14-4-57-1, Karn Sharma 13.4-4-37-1, Kartik Murali 18-3-58-2.
Railways — 1st innings: Shivkant 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 (batting) 78, Karn Sharma c Saha b Dinda 4, Mahesh Rawat (batting) 105; Extras (lb-8): 8; Total (for five wkts. in 68 overs): 233.
Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-28, 3-38, 4-38, 5-42.
Bengal bowling: Ashoke Dinda 21-4-83-3, Sourav Sarkar 14-4-46-0, Laxmi Ratan Shukla 10-2-25-0, Shib Sankar Paul 16-6-36-2, Saurasish Lahiri 3-0-19-0, Writtick Chatterjee 4-0-16-0.