Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Tiwary, Nandi fifties give Bengal fighting chance

Manoj Tiwary and Arnab Nandi hit fifties to put Bengal in the ascendancy on day two of the Ranji Elite A match against Punjab.

Manoj Tiwary played a crucial knock of 65 in Bengal's second innings.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

Manoj Tiwary and Arnab Nandi hit fifties to put Bengal in the ascendancy on day two of the Ranji Elite A match against Punjab here on Thursday. Bengal was 199/9 at stumps and led by 186 runs. Krishan Alang and Vinay Choudhary had restored a sense of parity by skittling the lower middle-order.

Bengal knew it had to show a lot more application than its last innings. It was then that Tiwary's experience came to the fore. Starting positively, Tiwary kept the scorecard ticking with singles and twos, sandwiched between fours. He was ably supported by Nandi who was resolute in his defence, and put away the loose balls.

By tea, both batsmen had brought up their hundred stand. Nandi was eventually dismissed for a 98-ball 51 by Siddarth Kaul. And by the time, Alang trapped Tiwary in front for a well-crafted 65, the lead had swelled well past 100.

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Punjab was left to rue a promising start though. In nine overs before lunch, that tested the skill of the batsmen, Kaul and Alang had reduced Bengal to 18 for two. There were lots of 'oohs and aahs', along with plenty of head-holding, in almost every over bowled.

Earlier in the morning,  Bengal needed early wickets to make a fight of the match. Akash Deep provided the first breakthrough with an outswinger to send back debutant Ramandeep Singh in the first over of the day.

Shahbaz then left Bengal in elation as he summoned the sort of spin bowling burst that was required to lift his side out of day one gloom. The left-arm orthodox ran through the Punjab middle-order in a spell where he picked five for 29 to finish with 20-5-57-7.

The early morning moisture played a part in giving the bowlers a bigger say. For the batsmen, there was the slowness of the Patiala pitch, and at times unpredictable bounce to tackle.

The last wicket pair of Anmol Malhotra and Baltej Singh showed stiff resistance, adding 26 to take a slender first-innings lead of 13. Malhotra, whose unbeaten 51 handed Punjab a win in the last match, struck 44.

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