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Wriddhi & Anustup extend lead to 272

Anustup Majumdar

Calcutta: Laxmi Ratan Shukla was confidence personified at the end of third day’s play at Eden Gardens, on Saturday. “We will win tomorrow,” said the Bengal captain.

An overall lead of 272 isn’t the safest of positions going into the final day, but given the conditions, Bengal certainly enjoy an advantage. With two wickets remaining, it’s likely that Bengal will bat for some time on Sunday.

The Saurashtra camp has already expressed their intentions of chasing whatever the target and that should set the stage for an interesting climax.

It was a day of toil for the Bengal batsmen as they could add only 189. The Saurashtra bowlers were accurate, but that was no excuse for such a slow run-rate.

Once Bengal lost their first four wickets quickly in the morning session, it was time for consolidation and adopting a cautious approach. The varying bounce on the wicket has been a matter of concern, but the batsmen too have to be blamed for their dismissals.

Poor shot selection was responsible for at least six of the wickets to fall during the day. But it was the 92-run fifth wicket partnership between Wriddhiman Saha (52) and Anustup Majumdar (69) that gave the innings stability.

Both batsmen showed immense concentration while treating the bowlers with respect during their association. Their ultra-defensive tactics did at times make it painful to watch, but their safety-first approach is sure to come in handy if Bengal manage to log in full points.

The Bengal top-order struggled once Sourashish Lahiri was forced to open following an injury to Rohan Banerjee. “It upset the batting combination,” rued Shukla.

It was Wriddhiman’s innings that stood out. As the Saurashtra bowlers, led by Abhishek Bhat, threatened to run through, the wicketkeeper-batsman showed the right temperament and application, sticking around for 207 minutes. Not a false stroke was attempted till he slashed at a wide delivery from Chirag Jani. Wriddhiman’s third half-century in as many matches this season included six hits to the fence.

A lot was expected from Shukla following his first innings century, but the Bengal captain was done in by the extra bounce. Anustup finally showed some character that helped Bengal move into a position of strength.