Bengal rode on the reliable Shahbaz Ahmed’s half-century amid another below par batting performance to stay in search of a second successive win in its Ranji Trophy Elite Group B match against Hyderabad at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack on Saturday.

Facing constant pressure from the Hyderabad bowlers, including Tanay Thyagarajan who took three important wickets, Bengal, which began from 16 for one, laboured to 201 in its second innings to set a 239-run target.

Hyderabad, which was at 16 for three in its second essay on the penultimate day, needed 223 runs more while Bengal required seven wickets for victory on the much-anticipated final day.

The young Hyderabad pace pair of Rakshann Readdi and B.Punnaiah kept the Bengal batters in check in the morning. Debutant Punnaiah, who was off the field for a while with a leg issue on the opening day, bowled with fire for nine overs and had the prized catch of opposition skipper Abhimanyu Easwaran (24).

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Ritwik Roy Chowdhury (41, 127b, 3x4) and Sayan Shekhar Mandal (17) batted with purpose to add 35 before Tanay dismissed the latter in his first over.

Manoj Tiwary was run out as Bengal, at 86 for four at lunch, needed some repair work.

Ritwik was brilliantly caught at first slip off Tanay after collecting 37 runs with Anustup Majumdar (42, 127b, 3x4).

Anustup stood for the most valuable stand, worth 65 runs, with Shahbaz (51, 87b, 4x4), who got three of his fours through late cuts and flicks. The two showed their expertise in handling such crises. They found the gaps and ran for most of their runs to take the lead past 200 runs.

The disciplined Tanay again underlined his ability as he trapped Anustup in front.

Abishek Porel was run out in quick succession.

Tilak Varma bowled his off-breaks beautifully to scalp Shahbaz, Akash Deep and Mukesh in one over as the Bengal innings ended abruptly.

Hyderabad had a troubled start to its chase as its captain Tanmay Agarwal was adjudged lbw off Mukesh Kumar in the first ball. Mickil Jaiswal and Akshath Reddy also fell cheaply in the last one hour.