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Bowlers buoy Bengal

Calcutta: They say when you drop catches, you lose matches.

Bengal spilled three — out of which, two were relatively easy — against Railways in their last Ranji Trophy tie, here, at the Jadavpur University Salt Lake Campus ground, on Saturday. But still, Bengal hold an upper hand, as they reduced Railways to 214 for nine at the end of Day One.

It was certainly a commendable effort from Bengal, who made a perfect use of the track that has very little to offer for the bowlers. Importantly, Sourav Sarkar (three for 62) and comeback man Shib Shankar Paul (two for 51) did a commendable job given the fact that the hosts were without Shami Ahmed and Ashok Dinda.

The start, though, was a sloppy one for Bengal after they put Railways in to bat. Openers Amit Paunikar (50) and Shivakant Shukla played and missed on quite a few occasions apart from surviving close leg before shouts, but pounced onto anything that asked to be dispatched.

In fact, just when Sarkar and Paul looked to tighten the screws on the two batsmen, they dished out loose stuff to release the pressure off Railways openers. Boundaries came thick and fast, as Paunikar reached his half-century shortly after the first drinks break.

Bengal didn’t help their own cause, giving Paunikar a couple of reprieves.

First, Rohan Banerjee spilled a chance at silly-point, off Iresh Saxena, in the day’s 14th over. Three overs later, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala at second slip could have given himself a much better scope of holding on to the sharp chance, off Paul’s bowling, had he timed his jump to perfection.

Sarkar got Bengal the breakthrough in the form of Paunikar’s soft dismissal, when he offered catching practice to the slip-cordon.

Shukla too departed soon after, trying to loft Iresh and perishing at mid-on.

The two quick dismissals handed the momentum back to Bengal, as they chipped in with wickets in regular intervals thereafter.

In the third over of the post-lunch session, young pacer Veer Pratap Singh picked up the crucial scalp of rival captain Sanjay Bangar, having him caught at third slip.

It only turned worse for Railways from thereon, as they lost another three wickets in a space of just 10 overs.