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Bengal fold up for 98
- Andhra Pradesh ahead by 170 runs on second day

Calcutta: Bengal folded up for 98 at the Eden on Wednesday, thereby endangering their chances of survival in the Ranji Trophy Super League.

Andhra Pradesh finished the second day at 147 for six, an overall lead of 170 after managing 121 on Day I. Ranadeb Bose’s excellent bowling, which fetched him four wickets in the second innings, prevented Bengal’s hopes from plummeting further.

The match is crucial for both the teams. While an outright win will enhance Andhra’s chances of making the last four stage, the same can provide Bengal with an escape route.

With the pitch still favouring swing bowling, the home team will face an uphill task.

The hosts’ joy of bowling out Andhra for 121 was short-lived as they lost the momentum in even quicker fashion.

Arindam Das and Wriddhiman Saha resumed at 46 for one on Wednesday morning amid foggy conditions. Andhra spearhead P. Vijay Kumar embarked on a demolition job that exposed the home batsmen’s weakness against the moving ball.

Bengal woke up to a shocker as the 21-year-old mediumpacer sent Wriddhiman (19) and debutant Priyankar Mukherjee (0) packing in the very first over of the day.

Out came Tiwary and with that the promise of a recovery. It never happened as Bengal’s batting mainstay didn’t justify the call for a possible place in the one-day squad Down Under. Tiwary failed to open his account after lasting just nine balls.

Sticking to the basics, Vijay Kumar skittled the Bengal batting.

Rana Chowdhury, who wreaked havoc in the Andhra innings with four for 13, came out of the dressing room with the scoreboard reading 61 for six and the day’s first session just 11 overs old.

The promising allrounder tried to heave Vijay Kumar over mid-wicket, missed the line and turned back to see the timbers disturbed. Another duck.

Captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla came and departed in equal alacrity, unable to negotiate an incoming delivery from the bowler.

The sight of one Bengal batsmen trooping to the pavilion after another brought back memories of their dismal journey in the current season: 86 vs Baroda, 107 and 124 vs Orissa, 149 and 193 vs Uttar Pradesh.

Their steep decline since their first match against Hyderabad, which they had failed to win despite controlling the match till the final session, should call for a serious examination of their mental approach.

Their shoddy, lazy and spineless batting in every match only lends credence to the belief that Deep Dasgupta & Co.’s exodus to the Indian Cricket League is too heavy a blow to be dealt with in Bengal cricket.

Bengal are still not out of the game totally, thanks to the tireless and selfless Ranadeb. He should be able to mop up the Andhra tail on Thursday morning.

That may provide Bengal with an opportunity Ś around 200 to chase. But are his batting mates good enough to rise to the occasion?

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