Anureet Singh picked four wickets, restrictin Bengal to 268 in the first innings © Getty Images
Anureet Singh picked four wickets, restrictin Bengal to 268 in the first innings © Getty Images

Kolkata: Skipper Mahesh Rawat’s fluent half-century kept Railways with a bright chance of getting the first innings lead against hosts Bengal in a group league encounter of the Ranji Trophy cricket tournament, on Friday.

In reply to Bengal’s first innings score of 268, Rawat’s unbeaten 56 helped Raiwlays reach 219 for six in 70 overs after one and half hours of play was lost in the opening session due to bad light.

Rawat’s 76 run fifth wicket stand with another Bengal discard Arindam Ghosh (49) kept Railways in the hunt after burly all-rounder Arnab Nandi’s quickfire 53 off 62 balls laid the platform. Veteran off-spinner Saurashish Lahiri finally came good as he grabbed four out of the six wickets but it was disappointing show otherwise by the Bengal spin troika.

Despite best efforts from home team to produce a rank-turner, the Eden Gardens strip played to true to its reputation of being low and slow in nature with occasional phases where it did something. While Lahiri did bend his back and got some occasional purchase, portly club level left-arm spinner Amit Banerjee again disappointed as he was clobbered for 47 in eight overs. A more experienced Iresh Saxena’s 13 overs also turned out to be fruitless as he gave away 39 runs.

Rawat developed cramps towards the fag end of the day but he saw through the day as Railways only require 50 runs more to get first innings lead and also offically knock Bengal out of the race for the quarterfinals.

Ignored by his state team, another Bengal discard Nandi who has switched allegiance to Railways like his senior partner Ghosh tried to prove a point as he counter attacked the Bengal attack.

Nandi also hit the Railways’ innings first six when he stepped out to left-arm spinner Banerjee to tonk him over long on. He however was done in by trying to be a bit more expansive when he missed the line and got bowled while stepping out to Lahiri who was the pick of Bengal bowlers.

Railways looked shaky after Nandy’s dismissal at 98 for 4 on the board but Ghosh remained steady as he stitched a crucial fifth wicket partnership with skipper Rawat who too played a perfect foil with little assistance for the bowlers from the surface. Ghosh became Lahiri’s fourth victim after when he missed the line trying to sweep to be dismissed one run short of a half-century.

Brief Scores:

Bengal 268 in 94.3 overs (Manoj Tiwary 68, Shreevats Goswami 62; Anureet Singh 4 for 45) vs Railways (Mahesh Rawat 56*, Arnab Nandi 53; Saurasish Lahir 4 for 72).