Ranji Trophy: Abhimanyu, Anustup shine for Bengal against Chandigarh

Bengal captain Abhimanyu Easwaran (114) and senior batter Anustup Majumdar (95) lifted Bengal to 329 for the loss of six wickets on Thursday.

Bengal batters Anustup Majumdar and Abhimanyu Easwaran walk back to the pavilion for lunch at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack on Thursday.   -  BISWARANJAN ROUT

Captain Abhimanyu Easwaran scored a well-deserved hundred and Anustup Majumdar got a fine half-century as Bengal gave an improved batting performance on the opening day of its Ranji Trophy Elite Group B match against Chandigarh at the Barabati Stadium here on Thursday.

Asked to bat, Bengal was at 329 for six in 85 overs in its first innings at stumps. The seasoned Manoj Tiwary (42) and Sayan Shekhar Mandal (33) were at the crease.

Even though Chandigarh fielded a depleted bowling attack, it began well on a green-top track. Jagjit Singh Sandhu, the leading wicket-taker for the side, bowled Sudip Gharami in the first over.

Jaskarandeep Singh breached Ritwik Roy Chowdhury’s defence before Abhimanyu (114, 172b, 12x4) and Anustup (95, 149b, 13x4) laid a solid foundation with a 193-run partnership.

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As conditions became favourable for batting with the progress of the day, the experienced duo gathered runs at a faster rate. They communicated well by calling loudly and rotated the strike to help Bengal record the most productive first session (115 for two) at the venue this season.

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Abhimanyu, who drove and cut with confidence, scored his 15th first-class hundred by off-driving Jagjit for a four. The Bengal skipper’s last first-class century (103) had come against South Africa ‘A’ in November 2021, while his previous Ranji ton (201 n.o.) was against Punjab in January 2019.

Abhimanyu, who was caught at cover off Jagjit before tea, was furious with himself.

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Anustup got his boundaries through well-timed drives and cuts. He was trapped in front five short of his century by off-spinner Gaurav Gambhir as the momentum shifted briefly towards Chandigarh early in the final session.

Bengal lost two more wickets before Tiwary and Mandal played resolutely to forge an unbroken 61-run stand and keep alive the hopes for a bigger aggregate.

“I'm not satisfied as I had an opportunity to score a bigger hundred… Would have been better to lose two wickets less. Manoj and Sayan made a crucial partnership,” said Abhimanyu.

The hardworking Jagjit, who shouldered the maximum workload and took three wickets, was the pick of the bowlers for Chandigarh.

The scores:

Bengal -- 1st innings: Sudip Gharami b Jagjit 0, Abhimanyu Easwaran c Arslan b Jagjit 114, Ritwik Roy Chowdhury b Jaskarandeep 12, Anustup Majumdar lbw b Gambhir 95, Manoj Tiwary (batting) 42, Abishek Porel c Harnoor b Jagjit 0, Shahbaz Ahmed c Gurinder b Gambhir 6, Sayan Shekhar Mandal (batting) 33, Extras (b-7, lb-9, w-3, nb-8) 27, Total (for six wkts in 85 overs) 329

Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-42, 3-235, 4-246, 5-249, 6-268

Chandigarh bowling: Jagjit 23-7-53-3, Nirmohi 17-4-57-0, Jaskarandeep14-0-69-1, Gurinder 8-0-43-0, Gambhir 19-2-66-2, Kaushik 4-0-25-0

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