Ranji Trophy: Bengal starts slow

Bengal chose to bat on a flat, slow surface but never got going. The Tamil Nadu pacers bowled with discipline, forcing the openers into their shells.

manoj tiwary

Bengal skipper Manoj Tiwary struck a half-century on a day when his team scored a little over two runs per over.   -  G. P. Sampath Kumar

On a day of staid, attritional cricket, half-centuries from skipper Manoj Tiwary and Agniv Pan helped Bengal to 190 for three in a Group A match against Tamil Nadu here on Sunday.

Bengal chose to bat on a flat, slow surface but never get going. The TN pacers bowled with discipline, forcing the openers into their shells. The team struggled to score quicker than two runs per over.

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Left-arm pacer T. Natarajan, who returned to side after an injury, removed opener Sayan Shekhar Mondal in the eighth over of the innings.

Earlier in that over, Natarajan decided to come around the wicket to the right-handed A. R. Eswaran and decided to stick with that angle to the left-handed Mondal. The latter poked at a ball going across and edged it to Aparajith who held it on the second attempt.

Just before lunch, Crist was rewarded for his persistence when Eswaran dragged the ball onto his stumps. Bengal, being conservative, didn't punish even the loose deliveries.

TN fielders, stationed precisely by skipper Abhinav Mukund, disallowed the rotation of strike. Sudeep Chatterjee struggled with his hamstring before retiring hurt.

Agniv Pan quickened the innings briefly before TN spinners stifled the runs again. Pan, in his unbeaten 51, hit seven fours a six over long off. The duo put together 83 for the third wicket before Tiwary was dismissed going down the track and offering a sharp return catch to Aushik Srinivas.

"We are playing with six specialist batsmen and that's why I think our openers were little bit in their shell," said Tiwary after the day, "They were very cautious at the start of the game but I feel if we score close to 350, then we can put pressure on Tamil Nadu. We are playing with five specialist bowlers and all of them are bowling really well so I'm confident we'll be able to restrict them under 350."

TN took the second new ball for the last three balls of the innings and will be hoping to come back fresh on Monday with its pacers well rested to restrict Bengal to a small total.