Ranji Trophy: Bengal calls the shots

On a lively pitch that offered pace, lift and seam movement, and in favourable weather conditions in the morning, Punjab dropped catches, especially off the bowling of Manpreet Grewal, even as Bengal thrived on its disciplined approach and sure play.

Bengal's Sayan Sekhar Mondal scored 135 runs before he was tricked by Manpreet Singh.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

Yuvraj Singh called it right on the toss, but it was Bengal that called the shots as it reached 332 for five on the opening day of the four-day Ranji Trophy league match at the picturesque Luhnu ground here on Thursday.

>Scorecard

On a lively pitch that offered pace, lift and seam movement, and in favourable weather conditions in the morning, Punjab dropped catches, especially off the bowling of Manpreet Grewal, even as Bengal thrived on its disciplined approach and sure play.

Punjab did drop half a dozen catches through the day, but it was the maiden century of opener Sayan Sekhar Mondal and his two big partnerships with Sudip Chatterjee and Agniv Pan, that decisively tilted the flow in favour of Bengal, at least for the day.

The 26-year-old Sayan scored 135 off 200 balls and struck 22 boundaries before flicking Manpreet Grewal into the gloves of wicket keeper Gitansh Khera who took a nice catch.

Bengal could have further teased Punjab but for captain Manoj Tiwary getting carried away by the smooth flow of runs and steering Sandeep Sharma into the hands of Taruwar Kohli who took a low catch in gully.

Abhimanyu Easwaran, who had scored a century in both the innings in the last match in Jaipur against Uttar Pradesh, had started the match in a brilliant fashion for Bengal, glancing and driving the first two balls to the ropes, but fell leg before on the fourth, as he failed to offer a stroke.

It was an opening that Punjab failed to encash, as it tended to be sloppy with its catching through the day, with skipper Yuvraj Singh himself being guilty of two dropped chances at first slip. Punjab did take the new ball after 80 overs, but continued to drop catches.

Left arm spinner Vinay Choudhary emerged the most successful bowler for Punjab, along with Sandeep Sharma, as he took the wickets of Sudip Chatterjee and Agniv Pan, but not before both scored half centuries that bolstered the Bengal innings.

There was an unusual situation as one of the umpires fell ill, possibly owing to dehydration, and two local umpires had to officiate at square leg for the last dozen overs of the day.

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