Atit Sheth’s superb five-wicket haul put Baroda in the driving seat against Bengal on the second day of the Ranji Trophy Elite Group B match at the Barabati Stadium here on Friday.
Sheth and his new ball partner Lukman Meriwala shared eight wickets between them to restrict Bengal for a paltry 88 in the first innings. Baroda gathered 144 for five in its second essay to inflate its overall lead to 237.
Bengal, resuming from 24 for one, witnessed a dramatic batting collapse on a tricky track and managed one of its lowest aggregates in the tournament.
Both Sheth and Meriwala gained from their experience of playing a practice match against Odisha at the venue. They hit good areas to make the most of the natural variation offered by the surface and scalped five wickets in the first hour.
Meriwala triggered the damage by having Sudip Chatterjee, who was earlier dropped, caught in the slips, but it was Sheth who stole the show.
Sheth moved the ball from the surface and benefitted from the unpredictable bounce. He dismissed two stalwarts in one over. Anustup Majumdar was caught behind, while Manoj Tiwary was bowled while shouldering arms.
Sudip Gharami nicked one to the wicketkeeper and Abhishek Porel was done in by a low delivery as Sheth delivered a spell, four for 22 in seven overs, which might prove to be the turning point of the contest.
Shahbaz Ahmed, who was the last man to get out, was Sheth’s fifth victim. Bhargav Bhatt jumped to hold a marvellous one-handed catch on the deep midwicket boundary as Baroda took a healthy 93-run lead before lunch.
Baroda captain Kedar Devdhar played an important knock of 41, containing some crispy shots to the fence, and added 41 with fellow opener J.K. Singh to build on the lead. However, most of the other batsmen, excluding the gritty Pratyush Kumar (39 batting, 144b, 5x4), could not capitalise on their starts.
Bengal bowlers worked hard for the wickets. Ishan Porel, who broke the opening stand, captured two. Shahbaz, who trapped Devdhar leg before, and Akash Deep claimed one apiece.
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