Bengal seizes the initiative

Off-spinner Aamir Gani bagged five wickets to fetch a 191-run first innings lead for Bengal against Services on the third day of the Ranji Trophy

File photo of Abhimanyu Easwaran of Bengal   -  RAJEEV BHATT

Off spinner Aamir Gani bagged five wickets to fetch a 191-run first innings lead for Bengal against Services on the third day of the Ranji Trophy cricket league at the Palam ground here on Sunday.

The 21-year-old Gani took his third five-wicket haul in an innings, as host Services slithered from 103 for one overnight to 359, with Navneet Singh hammering a fluent 121 off 284 balls with 13 fours.

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After medium pacer Mohammed Shami had taken the first wicket overnight, it was Gani who took the next four to reduce Services to 257 for five. Anustup Majumdar chipped in with his leg spinners to take two key wickets of Khalid Ahmad and Suraj Yadav after they had looked set for good runs. That scotched the aspirations of the host and hastened the end for the Services innings.

An injured Ravi Chauhan who had retired hurt, had returned to score a half century, but Services lacked the fire power to tackle a big total for the first innings lead, which ensures three points.

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In its second innings, Bengal was comfortably placed with the openers Abhishek Raman and Abhimanyu Easwaran putting on a 77-run partnership. It may be difficult for Bengal to force the host into submission on the last day, even though the team is already 268 runs ahead.

Brief scores

Bengal 1st innings: 552/9 decl.

Services 1st innings: 359 (Navneet Singh 121, Ravi Chauhan 53, Aamir Gani 5/109, Anustup Majumdar 2/63).

Bengal 2nd innings: 77 for no loss in 11 overs (Kumar Raman 40 batting, Abhimanyu Easwaran 31 batting).