KOLKATA: Three points in the bag, another three in sight. On Day 3 of the Ranji Trophy clash at Eden Gardens, Bengal completely dominated a hapless Tamil Nadu just going through the motions. Trailing by 128 with nine wickets to go, the visitors have it all to do to escape with some pride intact.
Bengal declared after amassing 454 for nine, with a lead of 208. Abhimanyu Easwaran’s star shone the brightest. The 19-year-old showed terrific temperament on way to an unbeaten 150 off 282 balls in a knock that lasted more than seven hours.
The day begun like the previous day had ended. Manoj Tiwary and Easwaran added 73 more for the third wicket before the former fell three shy off the three-figure mark, dragging a ball back from Aushik Srinivas. Sudeep Chatterjee hung in for sometime. Just when the partnership was starting to threaten, Tamil Nadu took the new ball before lunch hoping for things to change. T Natarajan got the first ball to dart back in and trapped Chatterjee in front. LR Shukla came in with the intention of getting a move on. However, he could not last till the break as he was caught at deep fine-leg by Natarajan while trying to hook M Mohammed.
The wickets gave a spring in the steps of the visitors. After play resumed, Shreevats Goswami was caught by Bharat Shankar at third slip off Natarajan, who was enjoying bowling with the new ball. Just as it seemed Bengal may collapse, the tail-enders came to the fore. The bowlers could not prevent the tail from wagging as cameos from Sourashish Lahiri and Saurav Sarkar ensured Bengal took a lead of more than 200.
Lahiri was the aggressor in a seventh-wicket century stand. He hit the first six of the match, lifting Aushik Srinivas delivery straight over his head. On the other hand, Easwaran scored his maiden first-class century in his sixth matches and as fate would have it, against his ‘home’ state. The youngster hails from Tamil Nadu but was born and raised in Dehradun. “I wanted to play my natural game and looked to score as many runs as possible for my side,” said the player who had hit two half-centuries this season.
Lahiri was bowled trying a slog sweep. After Sarkar and Dinda were dismissed off successive deliveries by Aushik, Bengal declared.
Dinda started proceeding for the hosts and got the ball to swing away, troubling openers Abhinav Mukund and K Bharath Shankar. Both got off to starts and were dispatching loose deliveries. However, Dinda had the last laugh as a sharp in-swinger undid Mukund’s hard work as he was trapped in front. .
TN 1st innings 246. Bengal 1st innings (overnight 183/2): A Easwaran not out 150, M Tiwary b Aushik Srinivas 97, S Chatterjee lbw Natarajan 23, LR Shukla c Natarajan b Mohammed 6, S Goswami c Bharath Shankar b Natarajan 1, S Lahiri b Mohammed 43, S Sarkar st Karthik b Aushik Srinivas 19, A Dinda b Aushik Srinivas 0, P Chakraborty not out 6. Extras (b 15, lb 12, nb 7) 34. Total (for 9 wkts declared, 121 overs) 454. Fall of wickets: 2-102, 3-256, 4-303, 5-311, 6-319, 7-421, 8-446, 9-446. Bowling: Balaji 23-4-70-1, Mohammed 32-7-101-2, Natarajan 25-3-92-3, Sathish 8-0-41-0, Aushik Srinivas 28-3-101-3, Aparajith 5-0-22-0.
TN 2nd innings: K Bharath Shankar batting 38, A Mukund lbw Dinda 33, R Aushik Srinivas not out 1. Extras (lb 8) 8. Total (for 1 wkt, 20 overs) 80. Fall of wicket: 1-70. Bowling: Dinda 7-2-31-1, Sarkar 5-3-9-0, Shukla 3-1-9-0, Chakraborty 3-1-13-0, Lahiri 1-0-3-0, Tiwary 1-0-7-0.