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Arindam steadies Railways

Arindam Ghosh, on way to his unbeaten 88, in New Delhi, on Friday. A Telegraph picture

New Delhi: Middle order batsman Arindam Ghosh had made his Ranji Trophy debut for Bengal in 2008, but could never really seal his place in the team. This season, deciding to switch his allegiance to the Railways, he has become a key batsman for the side.

On Friday, at the Jamia Millia University ground, Ghosh hogged the limelight with an unbeaten knock of 88 that carried Railways to a score of 210/4 for four.

Coming at a time when the hosts were reeling at 31/3 in 18.4 overs, Ghosh batted brilliantly to keep Bengal bowlers at bay for the entire day. He first added 122 runs for the fourth wicket with Nitin Bhille (65) to steady the innings and then struck another 57 runs for the unfinished fifth wicket stand with Mahesh Rawat (44 batting).

Except on the one occasion in the last over when he was dropped by wicketkeeper Gitimoy Basu off Shiv Shankar Paul, Ghosh played a chanceless innings and hit 10 fours during his 220-ball innings. Only recently, his double century against Baroda helped Railways score an innings victory.

Bengal skipper Laxmi Ratan Shukla’s decision to bowl first after winning the toss looked good in the first session. Pacers Ashok Dinda and Paul made the best use of the early morning track to tear into the Railways batting. While Paul kept the batsmen under check, Dinda removed Shivakant Shukla (0) and Karn Sharma (3) in his first spell of eight overs.

Like Dinda, Paul, too, bowled his heart out. His first spell was impressive at 10-8-2-1 though, at times, it appeared the batsmen were playing a little too cautiously.

The script changed after Ghosh joined Bhille at the wicket. He looked vigilant at the start, especially against Paul, but opened up once he settled down. Cricket was slow as Railways reached 56 for three at lunch, but neither of the two batsmen was in a position to take any liberty. The wicket became easier for the batsmen after lunch. Ghosh looked determined to perform well against Bengal and played some lovely shots. His joy was evident when after completing his half century he jumped up to celebrate and then raised his bat towards the dressing room.

While credit is due to the Railways’s batsmen, the floundering Bengal fielders had only themselves to blame for the Railways regaining some amount of control in the match. They dropped catches at crucial moments. As Shukla later put it, Railways would have been seven wickets down had his fielders held on to the chances.

Rawat remained unbeaten on 44 from 56 balls but he received a “life” on 16 when Sandipan Das grassed a simple catch at point off Dinda. The chance that was offered by Ghosh was a sharp one but wicketkeeper Basu was expected to take it.

In the morning, Bengal made two changes from the team that played against Services. While Arnab Nandi came in place of Rohan Banerjee, who complained of back pain, Gitimoy Basu replaced Wriddhiman Saha, who has been called away for national duty.