Bengal fight back
Bengal players showed character and helped their team bounce back in their Ranji Trophy Group A clash versus Punjab at the Dhruv Pandove Stadium in Patiala on Thursday.
Shahbaz Ahmed led the way, taking 7/57 to restrict Punjab’s lead before Manoj Tiwary (65) scored yet another vital half-century with solid support from Arnab Nandi (51) as Bengal reached 199/9 at stumps on Day II.
At present, Bengal lead by 186, which could well be a pretty tough total to chase down on a track that according to coach Arun Lal is “getting worse”. “The pitch is getting worse, of course. Batsmen are never set on this kind of a wicket. But at the same time, it has got a bit slower,” Lal told The Telegraph.
He, however, adds that his team requires a few more runs to be on the safer side. “See, 186-run lead is not enough. We have to try and get a few more from hereon… Say maybe another 20 or so if possible…
“Had the lead been around 250, I would’ve said it’s more than enough. But at the moment, it’s 60-40 in our favour.”
Punjab trailed Bengal’s first innings total by just 45 when they resumed. But Akash Deep struck in the first over of the day when he castled Ramandeep Singh, before Shahbaz cleaned Punjab captain Mandeep Singh up.
Just like Bengal batsmen failed to deal with Vinay Choudhary’s left-arm spin, their Punjab counterparts too had no answer to Shahbaz. The left-arm spinner chipped away with wickets and at one stage, Punjab were nine down and 13 short of Bengal’s first innings total.
Courtesy Anmol Malhotra (44), their last-wicket pair added put on 26 as Punjab’s first innings ended at 151.
In their second innings, Bengal were again reeling at 21/3 with the top order again making hardly any contribution. But on this occasion, Nandi delivered when sent again at No. 4.
In other words, it’s purely due to the partnership between Nandi and Tiwary that Bengal have been able to extend their lead past 180.