The Telegraph
Tuesday , December 4 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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It’s a tall order for Bengal

Shami Ahmed

Mumbai: Mumbai rode Hiken Shah’s third successive century to set Bengal a target of 391 in their Group A Ranji Trophy league match, after declaring their second innings at 294 for 5 on the third and penultimate day here Monday.

Bengal were 47 without loss in the 16 overs they batted with openers Arindam Das and Rohan Banerjee batting on 19 and 23, respectively.

The visitors need 344 runs on the final day in a minimum of 90 overs for a win on a Brabourne Stadium wicket which seems to have eased out.

Mumbai, who led Bengal by 96 runs in the first innings and started the day at 6 without loss, lost the wickets of Wasim Jaffer (19), Kaustubh Pawar (31) and skipper Rohit Sharma — who again flopped in the game, making 14 — before the left-handed pair of Shah and Abhishek Nayar propped up the innings.

Shah, who notched up 108 in 209 balls with 16 hits to the fence before being dismissed by Shami Ahmed, and Nayar, who cracked his second half century of the match (73 not out off 90 balls), had a century stand for the fourth wicket.

Having scored centuries in games against Rajasthan and Hyderabad, Shah was in blazing form and along with Nayar, who struck five fours and a six, put on 158 to help Mumbai declare 40 minutes before the scheduled close of play.

The home team declared once Aditya Tare fell to a catch in the deep after making a quickfire 19 off 11 balls with three fours and a six.

But Bengal openers Das and Banerjee had no trouble in negotiating the Mumbai attack in fading light, and remained undefeated at the close.

Bengal pacer Shami Ahmed, who went wicketless in the first innings, got two big wickets in the second.

He first packed off Jaffer, who shouldered arms to an incoming ball and was bowled, and then Shah, who was caught at mid-on, to finish with the innings top bowling figures of 2 for 39.

Sharma, who made 1 in the first innings, got into double figures in the second after being dropped first ball before Laxmi Ratan Shukla got his wicket for the second time in the game as he aimed for a drive and lost his stumps.

Between these two dismissals, opener Pawar fell to Avishek Jhunjhunwala.

It was left to Shah (who had made 92 for Mumbai A against the visiting England team in the latter’s second warm-up game) and Nayar to stem the slide and give the visitors a challenging total to chase in the fourth innings.