Shahbaz Ahmed’s splendid all-round showing gave Bengal a firm control over its Ranji Trophy quarterfinal match against Jharkhand at the Eden Gardens on Thursday.
Bengal, resuming at 238 for five, rode on Shahbaz’s 10 th half-century (81, 120b, 9x4, 2x6) to gather 328 in the first innings and secure a 155-run lead.
The home bowlers’ united effort, including Shahbaz’s two for 38, reduced Jharkhand to 162 for seven in the second innings and took Bengal closer to victory on the third day.
Even as the Jharkhand pacers bowled well to take wickets regularly in the opening session, Shahbaz, starting from 17, relied on his clean hits to extend Bengal’s lead.
After adding 49 with Abishek Porel (33, 52b, 5x4), Shahbaz formed useful partnerships worth 43 and 27 with Akash Ghatak and No. 11 Ishan Porel respectively to ensure a sizable lead.
Shahbaz was the last man to depart, held off Rahul Shukla on the off-side boundary.
Ashish Kumar executed his plans well to return figures of three for 89.
Under pressure, Jharkhand lost four wickets for 21 as Akash Deep bowled exceptionally well to get Kumar Deobrat caught at the first slip and uproot Kumar Suraj’s off-stump.
Akash Ghatak complemented well by claiming the wickets of Pankaj Kumar and Kumar Kushagra.
Aryaman Sen (64, 132b, 10x4, 1x6) and Anukul Roy (40, 58b, 6x4), grassed on 18 at first slip by skipper Manoj Tiwary off Shahbaz, consolidated the Jharkhand innings by contributing 71 runs.
The Tiwary-Shahbaz combination worked again to remove Anukul and break the stand.
A patient Aryaman, who also hit some fine fours on both sides, and captain Virat Singh (29, 29b, 4x4) collected 52 before Shahbaz dismissed the latter with the help of Tiwary.
Aryaman, following a contest with Ishan Porel, got out, pulling the pacer to deep square-leg.
Bengal, which spilled three catches, had to face Jharkhand’s resistance.