Not a regular off-spinner for Bengal, Writtick Chatterjee was just right for the conditions here. He delivered from a high-arm action, was quicker through the air and there was sharp turn and bounce for him on this surface with cracks.
He turned the ball into the right-hander from outside off, spun the ball away from the southpaws, and scalped five.
Yet, most importantly, Writtick was able to hit the right areas consistently, something the Tamil Nadu spinners have been unable to accomplish so far in the Bengal second innings.
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On a razor’s edge
And going into the final day on the dusty track at Chepauk, this Ranji contest is on a razor’s edge. Dismissing Tamil Nadu for 141 in its second innings, and pursuing 216, Bengal was 87 for two at stumps on Friday.
Ahead by 74 in the first innings, Tamil Nadu lost ground with some indecisive strokeplay. Bengal clawed its way back.
Exchange of words
As the contest hotted up, there was an exchange of words between Abhinav Mukund, fielding at short-leg, and Bengal batsmen Manoj Tiwari and Abhishek Raman.
Left-handed opener Abhishek followed his first innings 98 with an attacking 53 (58b, 7x4). The fleet-footed batsman’s willow came down straight from a high backlift and he was balanced and poised both in defence and offence.
He eventually fell to Kaushik Gandhi’s part-time off-spin, caught smartly by B. Indrajith at slip. Yet, on a pitch where Bengal claimed seven second innings wickets with off-spin, the host sorely missed a specialist off-spinner.
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Writtick delivered for Bengal but might have been fortunate to win the verdict against the in-form B. Aparajith (21) when the ball seemed to go off the batsman’s pad to short leg. Much of the Bengal appealing was vociferous.
For the host, N. Jagadeesan (38, 72b, 2x4) batted with some fluency but perished attempting an ambitious drive off Writtick.
There were some useful runs from night-watchman Sai Kishore (18) and then down the order from M. Mohammed (23 not out) who once again batted with spunk.
Despite these efforts, Tamil Nadu has a fight on its hands. Bengal is closing in.
Tamil Nadu first innings 263.
Bengal first innings: 189.
Tamil Nadu second innings: Kaushik Gandhi c Abhishek b Porel 9, Abhinav Mukund b Dinda 2, Sai Kishore lbw b Writtick 18, B. Aparajith c K. Ghosh b Writtick 21, B. Indrajith c Abhishek b Pramanik 4, N. Jagadeesan b Writtick 38, B. Anirudh b Writtick 0, J. Kousik lbw b Gani 10, M. Mohammed (not out) 23, Rahil Shah lbw b Gani 0, T. Natarajan lbw b Writtick 1; Extras (nb-1, b-10, lb-4): 15; Total (in 62.5 overs): 141.
Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-23, 3-44, 4-53, 5-83, 6-83, 7-108, 8-127, 9-127.
Bowling: Dinda 7-2-15-1, Gani 14-2-41-2, Porel 8-4-13-1, Writtick 13.5-3-22-5, Pramanik 20-8-36-1.
Bengal second innings: Abhishek Raman c Indrajith b Kaushik Gandhi 53, Koushik Ghosh c Indrajith b Rahil 13, Manoj Tiwari (batting) 13, Aamir Gani (batting) 1; Extras (b-6, lb-1): 7; Total (for two wkts. in 30 overs): 87.
Fall of wickets: 1-45, 2-80.
Bowling: Natarajan 7-1-17-0, Mohammed 3-1-9-0, Kaushik Gandhi 8-2-24-1, Rahil Shah 7-2-22-1, Sai Kishore 5-1-8-0.