| Vikram Rathore takes the aerial route during his knock at Eden Gardens Tuesday as wicketkeeper Deep Dasgupta looks on . Picture by Santosh Ghosh
HIMACHAL 290, 208/5 BENGAL 171
Calcutta: Even as Bengal were struggling to gain a foothold, Himachal Pradesh were ahead by 327 runs at close on the third day of the Ranji Trophy tie at Eden Gardens.
Having gained a 119-run lead over Bengal in the morning, Vikram Rathore carried on from where he had left off in Himachal’s first innings. Once again, he belted the Bengal attack but fell nine short of what would have been his second hundred of the match.
The dismissal, though, could be attributed to batsmen’s decision to continue despite the fading light. Though the umpires offered the light to the batsmen on a couple of occasions, they were promptly turned down.
Himachal, it seemed, wanted to amass as many runs as possible before going in for an outright victory on the final day. The extended last session made up for the loss on the first two days.
According to Match Referee S.B Kulkarni, the umpires had the option to stop play if they felt the insufficient light was ‘dangerous’ for the players to carry on. Deep Dasgupta, however, decided not to take any chances as he promptly asked for a helmet keeping against the spinners.
Surprisingly, Rohan did not have pacers bowling from both ends and stuck to a pace-spin attack.
Himachal are unlikely to declare at the start on Wednesday and will be looking to a lead beyond 350. “The pitch will not to easy to bat on. Cracks are already showing up,” said a confident Rathore.
Bengal, on the other hand, seemed content to take a cautious approach. “We have nothing to lose. We will not go slam bang from the start but if we are decently placed till sometime after lunch, we will go for the chase,” said coach Sambaran Banerjee.
Earlier, the Bengal innings lasted 80 minutes in the morning. Rohan completed his half-century with appreciable support from Ranadeb Bose. With the ball too, the medium pacer once again came up with a laudable effort.
Bowling almost unchanged from the High Court end, he got the ball to seam and bounce from a good length spot. None of the batsmen were comfortable against him.
The Himachal skipper, though, was the pick of the batsmen. He was finding the gaps with ease and used his feet against the spinners, especially Utpal Chatterjee, well. His 91 came off 194 balls and included 11 boundaries and a six.
The bowling, apart fromRanadeb, looked pretty mediocre. Sanjib Sanyal never got the chance to bowl while Shib Shankar Pal and Laxmi Ratan Shukla proved disappointing.
The fielding, too, was hardly encouraging. Too many runs were given away at will and a couple of catches dropped. Deep also fared no better behind the stumps.
In spite of the presence of Dr Vece Paes, the fitness of the Bengal players seem to be well below even the minimum standards.