| Aashish Kapoor (centre) celebrates the fall of another Bengal wicket at the Eden on Monday. Inset: Ranadeb Bose, who took six for 110. Pictures by Santosh Ghosh
HIMACHAL 290 BENGAL 128/7
Calcutta: Bengal surrendered the advantage of restricting Himachal Pradesh below the 300 mark as the home batsmen came a cropper on the second day of the Ranji Trophy match.
The glimmer of hope raised by Ranadeb Bose’s six-wicket haul in the morning went up in smoke as the batsmen did everything but show the desire and application to stay at the wicket. At stumps, drawn 24 minutes before the rescheduled close because of bad light, Bengal still needed 13 runs to avoid the follow-on.
The variable bounce on the wicket was proving to be a matter of great concern as Aashish Kapoor used all his experience to hasten Bengal’s doom.
The middle-order failed to get its act together as from 116 for two, they crashed to 128 for seven. Aashish Kapoor’s seventh over proved to be the turning point as he dismissed Devang Gandhi and Subhomoy Das with the second and last balls, respectively.
Sanjib Sanyal departed in the next over and suddenly the pressure was on the hosts. It proved too much to handle for Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Utpal Chatterjee.
The veteran off spinner had astounding figures of four for 12, but the Bengal batsmen had only themselves to blame for the downfall. It’s the “love for the game” that still keeps Kapoor going and nobody will question his dedication.
Kapoor may have returned the best figures but left-arm pacer Ashok Thakur troubled the home batsmen the most with his angular deliveries.
Only Devang impressed during his 63 off 89 balls. He may have been a little circumspect at the start but once he got used to the bounce and the pace of the wicket, he dominated the bowling. There were the flowing drives on both sides of the wicket and he also did not hesitate to pull anything pitched short.
The early dismissals of Deep Dasgupta and Amitava Chakraborty had left no impact on Devang’s approach. Deep never seemed satisfied with the leg before decision after lasting just eight balls and Amitava paid the price for attempting the pull on this slow wicket.
Rohan Gavaskar has stayed long for his 39 after surviving a caught behind attempt on 20. He has never looked in command and the team needs a responsible innings from him in an attempt to restore some respectability.
Vikram Rathore, however, ensured Himachal stayed in the hunt as he completed his 32nd first class hundred in the morning. His 120 came off 256 balls and included 18 boundaries.
Himachal started off cautiously but the second new ball brought about their collapse. From 221 for four they were reduced to 248 for seven.
Bengal gave away some vital runs in the closing stages but it was Ranadeb who had earlier restricted the flow. His third five-wicket haul was his “best”.
Bowling unchanged for 13.2 overs, he preyed on the batsman’s weakness with a consistent line.
A shin injury kept the 6 feet 4.5 inches out for sometime after his debut in 1998 but he is now determined to make his mark.
“I have a big goal and I’m really pushing myself,” said Ranadeb. “The ball was going through and the wicket wasn’t that slow. The grass, too, helped the ball seam a bit,” he said of his showing.
The stint at the MRF Pace Foundation and working with the likes of Venkatesh Prasad and Sadagopan Ramesh has also helped him mature a lot, he revealed.