Abhimanyu and Anustup perform the rescue act
If we can get 300 or more, we can challenge Gujarat, says Easwaran
Calcutta/Jaipur: Opener Abhimanyu Easwaran proved his mettle under pressure as his patient 129 enabled Bengal reach 261/6 at stumps on the first day of their Ranji Trophy quarter-final tie against defending champions Gujarat.
Courtesy Abhimanyu’s sixth first-class hundred and his 175-run stand for the fifth wicket with Anustup Majumdar (94), Bengal’s total gained some respectability after they were reduced to 59 for four at one stage.
Abhimanyu, who is on national selection committee’s radar, showed perfect big match temperament as he fished his team out of troubled waters. His 246-ball knock had 17 boundaries. It was the second new ball that did the trick as he edged one off Chintan Gaja (2/75 in 20 overs) to Samit Gohil.
With Bengal playing five specialist bowlers on a greenish Sawai Man Singh track, the lower order would now need to get the team past the 300-run mark. Earlier, Abhishek Raman and No. 3 Writtick Chatterjee were quickly dismissed by Ishwar Chaudhary (3/49), while Gaja trapped Manoj Tiwary plumb in front. Abhimanyu and Majumdar then resurrected the innings as they played the two spinners — left-arm orthodox Siddharth Desai and leg-spinner Piyush Chawla without much fuss.
Majumdar, who has been in good form since his comeback, faced 177 balls, hitting 11 fours. In order to reach his hundred quickly, Majumdar got dismissed, getting stumped by Desai.
Getting Abhimanyu’s wicket at the fag end gave the defending champions a bit of an upper hand, considering that theyt have a far superior batting line-up comprising skipper Parthiv Patel, prolific opening duo of Priyank Panchal and Samit Gohil along with the consistent Rujul Bhatt.
Having scored another century under pressure, Abhimanyu feels Bengal can still wrest the initiative with their bowling attack. According to Abhimanyu, Bengal do have the ammunition to challenge Gujarat if they can reach 300 or beyond.
“If we can go up to 300 or more, we can challenge Gujarat. We have a good bowling attack. I wanted to continue with the bat and resume on Friday, but my bad luck that I could not. In that sense, it’s disappointing,” he told the CAB website.
Speaking about his crucial stand with Anustup that saved the day for Bengal, Abhimanyu added: “When I was batting, it was a critical stage as we had lost wickets. But Anustup and myself decided to play out the first two hours safely and then try to play the shots.
“It is cold and a strong wind blows in the morning making batting difficult… Anustup also played brilliantly . He really deserved the century. We mixed caution with aggression, making sure runs came at a steady pace.”
Cricket Association of Bengal president Sourav Ganguly must have been pleased with the kind of fightback he saw Abhimanyu and Anustup stage during his presence in Jaipur on the day.
A. Raman b Ishwar 5
A. Eswaran c Gohil b Gaja 129
W. Chatterjee c Parthiv b Ishwar 4
M. Tiwary lbw Gaja 1
S. Goswami c Bhatt b Ishwar 4
A. Majumdar st Parthiv b Desai 94
B. Amit batting 8
A. Gani batting 6
Extras (nb-3, w-1, lb-6) 10
Total (6 wickets; 86 overs) 261
Fall of wickets 1/13, 2/43, 3/44, 4/59, 5/234, 6/255
Bowling: Gaja 24-5-75-2, Ishwar 20-5-49-3, Merai 7-2-10-0, Desai 17-0-67-1, Piyush 14-1-43-0, Bhatt 4-1-11-0