Arindam Ghosh (100) and Mohammed Saif (99) continued their run-scoring form as Railways took a 183-run first innings lead against Pondicherry on day three of the Ranji Trophy Group C match at IC Guru Nanak College ground on Saturday.

The pair made the most of a poor bowling display from Pondicherry, lifting the game away with a 146-run partnership. Valuable contributions from Upendra Yadav and Yuvraj Singh later ensured Railways had the edge at Stumps.

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Pondicherry struggled all morning as Ghosh and Saif batted out the entire session with a series of aggressive shots along the long-on and long-off boundaries. Saif took charge at the start of play after replacing Vivek Singh, who was dismissed at the end of day two. He took on the spinners - hitting three sixes down the ground while Ghosh pierced the gaps with flowing drives.

The pair continued the onslaught post Lunch. Ghosh led Railways past Pondicherry’s total before launching a massive slog-sweep six over mid-wicket to reach his second hundred of the season. However, he fell four balls later as Sagar Udeshi nicked him off to first-slip.

Frustration

After receiving seven reprieves in its innings by the Railways fielders, Pondicherry braced for an intense fielding session under head coach Dishant Yagnik before the start of play.

However, four overs into the day’s play, Pondicherry gave Saif a massive let off on 12 off Pavan Deshpande’s bowling as a regulation catch went down at silly point.

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Saif toned down his aggression after Ghosh’s dismissal to push the lead for Railways. Rohit Damodaren’s men turned flaccid as the temperatures picked up post noon, with Saif and wicketkeeper Yadav putting 57 runs for the fourth wicket.

Frustration turned hostile when Pondicherry seamer Subodh Bhati whiffed past Yadav’s outside-edge in the 125th over with Saif stranded on 99. While the umpire was unmoved after a loud appeal, the Pondicherry fielders swarmed in to have a long argument.

The vulnerable movement cost Saif his ton as he fell to a stumping by S.Karthik in the next over and made the long walk back, not before damaging the opposition's morale.