Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Wriddhiman Saha
Mohali: A responsible innings by Wriddhiman Saha and his century partnership with senior pro Laxmi Ratan Shukla helped Bengal end the first day’s play against Punjab at a respectable 280 for seven.
Saha and Shukla added 124 for the sixth wicket after the two came together when Bengal were tottering at 118 for five.
At stumps, Saha was batting on 75 off 155 balls with the help of nine fours and a six while Shukla contributed 62 with 10 boundaries. More importantly, Shukla hung around for 105 balls which also gave Wriddhiman a chance to plan his innings.
Saha was absolutely flawless during his undefeated knock and the six was a straight hit off left-arm spinner Bipul Sharma. He was patient and waited for the loose deliveries.
Incidentally, this was Wriddhiman’s third consecutive half-century this season having scored 59 and 65 not out against Rajasthan in the opening game.
Punjab skipper Mandeep Singh opted to field on a track which offered assistance to the seamers.
Opener Jayojeet Basu’s (7) inexperience at the first-class level was exposed once again during his 27-ball knock. He fished out at an outgoing delivery from Manpreet Gony into wicketkeeper Uday Kaul’s hands.
Subhamoy Das (28) and Writam Porel (33) then took the score past 50 but second change medium fast bowler Amitoze Singh breached through Subhamoy’s defence.
Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary (20 off 32 balls, 3x4) was getting set when Gony induced an edge that flew to rival skipper Mandeep Singh in the slips.
With Porel and Anustup Majumdar (22) also gone, Bengal were in dire straits when Saha and Shukla joined hands.
India discard Rahul Sharma gave away 50 runs in 11 overs and was punished on several occasions by Saha and Shukla in particular. However Sharma had the last laugh as he dismissed Shukla to bring Punjab back in the match.
A target in excess of 325 is something that Bengal will be looking at before they unleash their pace weapon Ashok Dinda on the confident Punjab batting line-up.