Ranji Trophy final: Vasavada, Pujara put Saurashtra on top

Cheteshwar Pujara overcomes illness to score fifty, Arpit Vasavada scores second ton in a row on day two of Ranji Trophy final.

Pujara and Vasavada added 142 runs for the sixth wicket in 380 balls.   -  Vijay Soneji

In the first two sessions, the only time Bengal could sniff a dismissal in the otherwise dull day of batting overdose was in the 18th over of the day. Shahbaz Ahmed hit Cheteshwar Pujara’s pads but the batsman was outside the designated ‘three metres’ from the stumps; thereby, cancelling out the chance of a review.

Pujara (66 off 237) and Arpit Vasavada (106 off 287) batted their heart out for 297 minutes on a wicket that was slammed by Bengal coach Arun Lal on day one. The duo added 142 runs for the sixth wicket in 380 balls. Saurashtra finished at 384/8.

Scoring under 2.5 runs per over and striking the ball at a little over 30, the Saurashtra batters literally put everyone to sleep. One could feel for the Bengal fielders who were battling the dry heat for two days at a stretch. At one stage, Pujara’s strike-rate dropped to 22.

SAU vs BEN, Day 2: Blog

They scored 50 to 55 runs in the first two sessions. In fact, it took them 46 overs to reach 100 runs this morning.

Bengal took 63.1 overs to get their first breakthrough. Centurion Vasavada fell to Shahbaz’s flight. The left-hander stepped out to play with turn but the ball beat the outside edge; Saha took the bails off.

In the last session, Bengal’s semifinal hero Mukesh Kumar struck twice to pull things back. He trapped big fish Pujara in front of the stumps. In his next over, he nipped one back and trapped Prerak Mankad leg before who was out for a golden duck.

Saurashtra hit only 13 boundaries today, and Kumar was the pick of the bowlers for Bengal.

Brief scores: Saurashtra 384/8 (A Vasavada 106, C Pujara 66; M Kumar 2/83, S Ahmed 2/103) at stumps on day two.

"I still think it is a poor wicket. It is slow and low. They batted well, of course, but in cricket, there is fielding, bowling, spin and pace. Here, it was only batting. And that too 170-odd runs in the whole day. They can’t get the runs because it is keeping low. We are still in the game. The match is open. The only thing is they have runs on the board. I was hoping we can get them for around 325. They played very well in the morning session. They didn’t take any chance at all, they taught us how to play on this wicket. Our batsmen should learn from them."

— Arun Lal, coach, Bengal

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