The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Assam claim vital lead
- Sarvanan (123), Sukhwinder in big stand as fielders flop

Calcutta: A professional motivator or a physical trainer cannot teach one how to take catches. And one cannot expect to keep a batsman quiet after missing three dollies.

Bengal exhibited on Tuesday how not to defend a moderate total. In one of the worst outfield displays in recent times, Bengal allowed to take Assam a 42-run first-innings lead as the visitors reached 288 for eight at stumps on Day II of the Ranji Trophy Elite Group B match at Eden Gardens on Tuesday.

And they allowed V. Sarvanan to score 123, dropping him on zero, four and 23. Amitava Chakraborty and Subhamoy Das havenít been performing with the bat, and they did their cause no good by flooring the first two chances. Ranadeb Bose was the unlucky bowler on both occasions. The third was dropped by Laxmi Ratan Shukla, off his own bowling.

Things could have been even worse had the Assam boys not played a few mindless shots towards the end of the day and lost three wickets in quick time. Shib Sankar Paul reaped the harvest, finishing with figures of five for 89 ó his fourth successive five-wicket haul of the season.

One good thing about the burly paceman is he always hits the right areas and his shoulders do not droop even when struck for a few. Shib Sankar and Ranadeb started the day on a bright note, making use of the early morning dampness. Though Shib Sankar picked up the first two wickets of the day, Ranadeb was the one to really impress, beating the batsmen on a number of occasions.

Obviously, one doesnít get too much to show for when the fielders let you down.

At one point of time, Bengal looked to be in the driverís seat, reducing Assam to 101 for five. But Sarvanan and Sukhwinder Singh took charge of the situation to build a 181-run partnership that allowed Assam to go past Bengalís first-innings total of 246.

It wonít be an overstatement to say that they were allowed to run the show.

A number of things left a lot to be desired. The poor show by the spinners and the unimaginative captaincy of Devang Gandhi, to name a few.

While off-spinner Sourashish Lahiri seems to have lost the bite that helped him run through a few sides a couple of seasons back, veteran left-armer Utpal Chatterjee was in no mood to give the ball a wee bit of air.

Devangís bowling changes were strange. Sanjib Sanyal, being played as an allrounder, was never given a bowl when a partnership was flourishing. Also, only the captain knows why taking the new ball was delayed by eight overs, knowing full well that his best bet to provide the breakthroughs is his pace duo. Incidentally, Ranadeb removed Sarvanan and Shib Sankar got the other two after the new ball was taken.

Bengal have a battle uphill on Wednesday, and if an outright victory cannot be forced, playing the prospect of Jammu and Kashmir and Tripura next season in the Plate Group becomes more than a possibility.

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