Ranji Trophy: Bengal all set to turn the heat on Mumbai

The third day's play ended with Bengal at 433 for eight and had taken a lead of 303 runs.

manoj tiwary

Manoj Tiwary scored 169 from 288 balls which included 22 fours and one six.   -  PTI

Bengal competed against Mumbai with a fixity of purpose and has turned this crucial Group 'A' Ranji Trophy league match on its head. The third day’s play was about a resolute Manoj Tiwary (169, 466m, 288b, 22x4s, 1x6) and Sudip Chatterjee (130, 491m, 304b, 18x4s) wearing down Mumbai's seam bowling. They showed a fine balance between defence and attack to take their fourth-wicket stand to a whopping 271 runs that seemed a far cry on Wednesday afternoon after their side had lost three wickets for 56 trailing by 130 on the first innings.

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Full marks to Tiwary and Chatterjee who through their steadfast approach not only deprived Mumbai a breakthrough for seven hours and four minutes, but has also turned the heat on it by posting 433 for 8 in the second innings. Bengal was up by a net 303 when the failing light brought an end to the action with 22 remaining to be bowled; it will mount pressure on Mumbai with a substantial fourth innings target.

There can be questions asked about the 31-year-old Tiwary's choice to bat at No. 5, and not at No. 3 where Sayan Shekhar Mandal failed to deliver. Nonetheless, the option worked well for Bengal as he took the Mumbai attack by the scruff of its neck once he took heavy toll of seamer Dhawal Kulkarni at the start of his innings. Tiwary has been a prolific run getter against Mumbai and with two centuries and four half centuries and Mumbai celebrated the fall of wicket for a cheap score in the first innings; he made them wait for fourteen minutes short of eight hours in the second.

Tiwary has a side-on stance, defends with a full face of the bat and likes to stroke the ball straight down the wicket and rock on his backfoot to cut and drive. He eliminated the risk of dancing down the pitch, though the spinners not were seen in action for long spells, but he and the durable Chatterjee made Mumbai toil with a ball that was 61 overs old at the start of the third day’s play and with the second new ball claimed after 86 overs.

In the absence of a quality spinner, Mumbai suffered and the seamers in Shardul Thakur, Kulkarni, Tushar Deshpande and Abhishek Nayar had to manfully brave the brunt of the attack on a surface that had not become a featherbed, but made life somewhat easier for the set batsmen in Tiwary and Chatterjee, who showed courage and admirable temperament to do the big repair work.

Bengal added 90 runs in 31 overs sent down in the first two and half hour first session, and 80 runs in 23 overs bowled in the two-hour second, but Mumbai picked up three wickets in the fourth hour. Medium pacer Nayar, known to provide breakthroughs, first won a leg before decision against Chatterjee, that signalled the fall of the first Bengal wicket in seven hours and thereafter he trapped left hander Agniv Pan plumb in front.

It was a magnificent accurate throw from the fence from Thakur to the keeper Aditya Tare that caught Tiwary short of his ground by a foot and to be sent to the pavilion. The referral confirmed his dismissal. Tiwary had played the captain’s knock and with Chatterjee had baulked Mumbai for 530 balls and that in itself is the terrific tale of the match that had seemed all over bar the shouting for Bengal after it capitulated for 99 in under three hours on the first day.