At the end of third day's play, Hyderbad kept the hope of grabbing the vital first innings lead alive when the third wicket partnership between Rohit Rayudu and Himalay Agarwal took the host to 204 for 4 in a Group B Ranji Trophy match at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Sunday.

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On a day when caution was the watchword, the home team batsmen never really made any serious attempt to dominate the bowling attack.The first choice was to play safe and with nothing in the pitch and remote possibility of a result in this game. It was understandable as the tone was set for the day in the first 10 overs when only 10 runs were scored at the loss of no wicket in reply to Bengal's first innings score of 336.

It was the left-arm spin of debutant Shahbaz Ahmed which earned Bengal the first breakthrough when he trapped opener Tanmay Agarwal in the 15th over of the day.

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Then, Rohit (92 batting, 251b, 10x4) and Himalay (65, 180b, 6x4, 1x6) showed the desired patience to counter whatever little threat the bowlers posed. There were quite a few fervent appeals for lbws and caught-behind decisions which were turned down.

Though, Himalay was lucky on two occasions when he was caught and bowled on 18 by Aamir Gani off a no-ball and then surviving a close call for a run-out at the non-striker's end going for a sharp single. His was a mixed display - marked with some fluent drives square of the wicket and some close shaves on the off-stump against the pace trio of Ashoke Dinda, Mukesh Kumar and Ishan Porel.

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It was after the second new ball was taken at 186 for two - Bengal came back into the game thanks to the double blow by Dinda who first removed Himalay forcing him to nick one to slip fielder Anustup Majumdar and then inducing a poor stroke from southpaw B. Sandeep, whose attempted leg-glance went to the wicket-keeper.

But, at the other end, Rohit was determined to hold one end up and he too survived some anxious moments while facing the second new ball.