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Shukla keeps hopes alive

New Delhi: Laxmi Ratan Shukla’s unbeaten innings of 87 kept Bengal’s hope alive in the Ranji Trophy tie against the Railways at the Jamia Millia University Ground on Sunday.

Shukla played splendidly to take the score to 252/7 for seven, at stumps on Day 3. The visitors, however, are still 54 runs behind the Railways first innings score of 306.

Along with Iresh Saxena (batting 5), Shukla added 54 runs for the unfinished eighth wicket and is looking good enough to carry the battle to the Railways camp on the final day on Monday.

As on Day Two, Bengal batted slowly and added only 187 runs throughout the day to their overnight score of 65 for one. Shukla alone struck 87 of those runs with the help of nine fours and two sweetly timed sixes after facing 130 balls.

Shukla’s innings not only kept the opponents on their toes, but was also an eye opener for his teammates. On a wicket where other Bengal batsmen struggled to score, Shukla’s knock was like a breath of fresh air.

His strokes were fluent and graceful and he looked elegant throughout his 222 minutes unbeaten stay at the wicket.

The Bengal skipper, however, got a life when on 51. He mistimed a Krishnakant Upadhyay delivery and offered a catch at point, which was dropped by Shivaktant Shukla.

But with the Bengal tail very much visible, Shukla has a tough task on hand for Monday. Though Iresh Saxena has survived 70 balls before the umpires called off Sunday’s play because of bad light, it remains to be seen whether Shukla can guide Bengal to a first-innings lead on a lively morning track.

There was, however, no lack of aggression on part of Bengal players when Railways captain Murali Kartik ran out Sandipan Das (19) for backing up too far at the non striker’s end, before the bowler had actually delivered the ball.