Ranji Trophy: MP take massive lead against Bengal

Rajat Patidar grafted his way to a first-class hundred against Bengal, bringing the attention back on batsmen after two days of domination by bowlers in the Ranji Trophy 2016 quarterfinals.

Rajat Patidar of Madhya Pradesh plays a shot as Bengal wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha looks on in the third quarter-final match of Ranji Trophy in Mumbai.   -  PTI

Rajat Patidar grafted his way to a first-class hundred against Bengal, bringing the attention back on batsmen after two days of domination by bowlers in the Ranji Trophy 2016 quarterfinals.

Sixteen wickets had fallen the day before at the Brabourne Stadium. New ball bowlers Ashoke Dinda and Veer Pratap Singh were on the hunt in helpful conditions. The number three batsman’s 137 off 251 deliveries lifted Madhya Pradesh to 338-5 at stumps, 565 ahead in the second innings.

MP will be looking to add to an already intimidating total before giving its bowlers another crack at Bengal in the two days remaining. Patidar watched from the dressing room as opener Jalaj Saxena edged Dinda behind, and then survived anxious moments in testing conditions on a cool morning before justifying the team management’s faith in his run-making. He hit 19 boundaries and a six in his century No. 3 in five first-class games. The 22-year-old then revealed that his expectations were higher.

The Indore teenager said: “I am a hitter and the risks did not pay off. Seniors in the MP squad advised me to be patient for runs at the first-class level, so I focussed on batting session to session. The bowlers got help from the moisture in the wicket, so I had to be careful. Conditions were different after the wicket dried up and I became more assertive.”

Bengal bowlers could only hope for a mistake from Patidar (50 from 110b, 100 from 73b) and when he left at 314-5, MP were firmly in command. Devendra Bundela (72 off 114 balls, 11x4) built on the impetus provided by the teenager, sent ahead of senior Naman Ojha (52).

Harpeet Singh, unbeaten on 18, seems ready for a bigger knock than the 51 he scored in the first innings.

Tiwary tried seven bowlers, among whom left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha crossed a personal milestone of 400 victims in first-class cricket. Bengal will hope to dismiss left-hander Harpeet early on day four to have any say in the knockout match after being at the receiving end for three days.

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