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Bengal eyes lead despite Kohli's 173

Special Correspondent
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Fortuitous: Virat Kohli's lucky 173 kept Delhi in the hunt for the first innings lead against Bengal. — Photo: R.V. Moorthy
Fortuitous: Virat Kohli's lucky 173 kept Delhi in the hunt for the first innings lead against Bengal. — Photo: R.V. Moorthy

Four quick blows — two each on either side of the tea-break — laid Delhi low and placed Bengal on a high as the race for the first innings lead entered the final day of the Ranji Trophy Super League match at Ferozeshah Kotla ground.

Looking to overhaul Bengal's 473, Delhi finished the third and penultimate day at 328 for six. Virat Kohli, who pressed his luck too hard and was run out for 173, was the only batsman on view to threaten Bengal on Wednesday.

Despite Kohli's fortuitous yet dominating knock, during which he was dropped twice and escaped two clear run-out chances, Delhi only managed 239 runs in 82 overs and lost five top-order wickets on this day.

For Bengal, which deserves all the credit for making it difficult for other Delhi batsmen to get going, medium pacer Ashok Dinda claimed two crucial wickets to add to the one he claimed on Tuesday.

While the match appears set to end in a draw, Bengal will be looking to claim the last four Delhi wickets before the host can get another 146 runs needed for the first innings lead on Thursday.

Kohli was associated with two century stands, one with opener Shikhar Dhawan of 118 runs for the second wicket and the other with skipper Mithun Manhas of 137 for the third wicket.

Kohli, who dominated the attack with some fine array of strokes off the front-foot, hit a six and 24 boundaries during this 267-ball knock. The confident right-hander was finally run-out after failing to beat a throw at the striker's end from Arindam Das. Soon thereafter, Gaurav Chhabras was clearly unlucky to be given leg-before.

Minutes after tea, Dinda struck twice to leave Delhi tottering at 295 for six. Manhas ran out of patience and slashed at an away going delivery to be caught behind. New-man Puneet Bisht's ambitious pull off Dinda was snapped at forward short-leg by an alert Avishek Chowdhury as Delhi lost four wickets in the space of just 34 runs.

The scores:

Bengal — 1st innings: 473

Delhi — 1st innings: Chetan Sharma lbw b Dinda 3, Shikhar Dhawan c Saha b Shukla 42; Virat Kohli (run out) 173; Mithun Manhas c Saha b Dinda 43, Gaurav Chhabra lbw b Bose 14, Rajat Bhatia (batting) 24, Puneet Bisht c Chowdhury b Dinda 9, Sumit Narwal (batting) 13, Extras (lb-2, nb-3, w-2) 7, Total (for six wickets in 106 overs) 328.

Fall of wickets: 1-6, 2-124, 3-261, 4-279, 5-281, 6-295.

Bengal bowling: R. Bose 29-5-92-1, A. Dinda 21-2-87-3, L. R. Shukla 22-3-58-1, S. Lahiri 13-3-38-0, I. Saxena 10-1-44-0, M. Tiwari 1-0-7-0 .

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