Abhimanyu Easwaran and Anustup Majumder underscored the virtue of grit as they built a 175-run fifth wicket stand to script Bengal's excellent recovery against Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal match at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium here on Thursday.
Abhimanyu's fine 129 (246 balls, 17x4) and Anustup's commendable 94 (177 balls, 11x4) revived Bengal's innings from 59 for four and helped the side register a total of 261 for six in its first essay at the close of play on day one.
Bengal, which fielded an XI without an unwell Sudip Chatterjee, suffered early jolts after being asked to bat first.
In windy and overcast morning conditions, disciplined Gujarat pacer Ishwar Chaudhary bent his back to extract good movement off a surface that had enough moisture.
The Bengal batsmen looked tentative and fell to poor shots. Abhishek Raman was bowled in the sixth over and Writtick Chatterjee was caught behind while trying to leave the ball in the 12th.
Ranji Trophy Quarterfinals, Day 1: As it happened
Chintan Gaja trapped Manoj Tiwary in front and Ishwar had Shreevats Goswami caught in the slips to pile on Bengal's misery in front of Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president Sourav Ganguly.
However, Abhimanyu was positive in his approach and judicious in choice of shots. Even as his colleagues struggled at the other end, the opener negotiated the early movement well because of his sound footwork and impressive technique.
Despite their contrasting batting styles, Abhimanyu and Anustup made a superb combination due to their common intent. While Abhimanyu presented an ideal example of traditional batting, Anustup used his hand-eye coordination to negate the Gujarat bowlers' threat.
Ranji Trophy round-up
As sun shone brightly to ease out the conditions, the duo found the gaps more freely. Abhimanyu looked in control throughout his innings and picked up his fours on both sides. A late cut to the fence off left-arm spinner Siddharth Desai brought up his sixth century.
Anustup, who chose the point and mid-wicket regions to get maximum of his boundaries, was disappointed to miss out on his third century on the trot in as many innings. He was stumped in the final session off Desai.
A little later, Abhimanyu's knock came to an end as he was caught in the slips off an industrious Gaja in the 83rd over.
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