| Sukhwinder Singh in action at the Eden on Wednesday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta: Soon after the game was called off Wednesday 16.5 overs before scheduled close, the Bengal team management got down with the lower-order batsmen giving them some vital batting practice. It has finally come down to them to stop Assam from walking away with four points from Eden Gardens.
After allowing Assam amass 347 in the first innings (59 for the last two wickets), which helped the visitors extend their first-innings lead to 101, Bengal were 111 for three at stumps. Subhamoy Das (4) and Laxmi Ratan Shukla (0) are at the crease.
Some ordinary bowling in the first session and negative batting in the last two and saw Assam reach the position of strength they find themselves in at the moment.
Captain Sukhwinder Singh (115 not out) completed his second century of the season, and he, along with Arlem Konwar (8), batted out most of the first session. Bengal’s cause was not helped by a shabby bowling display by the medium-pacers, who failed to put the ball in the right areas.
The hosts also decided to do away with the close-in fielders just as Sukhwinder started playing a few shots. That took the pressure completely away from Assam and there were a few easy singles in the offing. Sanjib Sanyal, however, was given a fair run and proved a good investment, breaking the 43-run ninth wicket partnership.
But it was sad to see the way Bengal batted in the next two hours with Nikhil Haldipur and Amitava Chakraborty going into a shell. There was hardly any intent to put up a few runs on the board that could have helped Bengal put some pressure on Assam in the last two sessions on Day IV.
Nikhil didn’t play his natural game and was dismissed in the last over before tea, Bengal scoring 42 runs in 29.5 overs in the process. Devang Gandhi (36) played a few attractive shots, but an edge to the slips brought about his demise. However, the stand-in Bengal captain crossed 4000 runs in Ranji Trophy when he reached 15.
Amitava (44), who looked quite set at one end, played a bad shot to be dismissed an over before close of play. He tried to cut a ball and dragged it onto his stumps, a shot that might cost him his place in the XI when Bengal play Hyderabad from Tuesday.
Laxmi stopped the night-watchman and went out himself. Had the others shown this sort of positive approach, things could have been a lot more different.