Railways opener Vivek Singh hit a 189-ball 92 before Pondicherry struck back with a late wicket on day two to leave the Ranji Trophy Group C match in the balance at the IC Guru Nanak College ground on Friday.

With three minutes left for Stumps, Pavan Deshpande had Vivek edging to first slip where Paras Dogra grabbed a blinder to leave Railways three down for 205, 137 runs behind Pondicherry’s first innings total.

After an insipid display on day one, the Railways fielders geed up their seamers, who inflicted early damage in the first hour. Amit Mishra struck in the first over, inducing Paras Dogra’s outside edge on the fifth ball for his overnight score of 107. Yuvraj Singh piled further misery with two wickets - dismissing Sagar Trivedi and Sagar Udeshi within the space of just five deliveries.

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Pondicherry, which added 53 runs for the last two wickets, had Railways to thank for seven dropped chances in total in the innings.

Changing Guard

Momentum drifted drastically when Railways openers Mrunal Devdhar and Vivek Singh walked out on a surface that retained its freshness. Pondicherry seamers Subodh Bhati and Sagar Trivedi bowled much fuller in contrast to their counterparts, who dug the ball short and extracted distinct zip and bounce.

Pondicherry skipper Rohit D brought in off-spinner Fabid Ahmed quite early in the 10th over before Lunch, but the plan backfired as a knee injury forced him to withdraw once again. The openers ground for 13 more overs in the second session before a nagging spell from left-arm spinner Udeshi came to fruition as he trapped Mrunal for 23.

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The bowlers lacked variety in attack when Railways number three Shivam Chaudhary added aggression to Vivek's unshakeable approach. Chaudhary got stuck into left-armer Sidak Singh in his first over with two powerful lofted drives over long-off. Railways raced to 110 for one in 38 overs before Tea, with the pair racking up 63 runs in the session from 88 balls.

While Chaudhary fell early in the final session, Arindam Ghosh joined Vivek to add 67 runs before the southpaw's untimely dismissal.