A fascinating display of pace bowling by the rookie duo of B. Amit and Ishan Porel helped Bengal push Gujarat on the back foot in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal match at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium here on Friday.
Amit captured three wickets and Porel scalped two as Gujarat ended the second day at 180 for six and needed 174 more to erase the first innings deficit.
In the opening session, Bengal, resuming from 261 for six, rode on Aamir Gani and Amit's 58-run seventh wicket stand to post a fighting aggregate of 354 in its first essay.
Gujarat, which lost two wickets for 17 due to some accurate bowling by Ashoke Dinda and Porel, recovered nicely with the aid of a 107-run third wicket partnership between Bhargav Merai (67, 116b, 8x4) and captain Parthiv Patel (47, 95b, 7x4).
With his solid defence and sensible stroke play, Merai did his job with perfection. He drove and pulled with confidence to pick up eight of his nine boundaries in his 12th half-century.
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Parthiv, who survived an early lbw appeal off Porel, grew in confidence to hit some excellent boundaries on the off-side and straight down the ground.
The Merai-Parthiv pair withstood a phase of hostile bowling from the Bengal speedsters, led by the energetic and experienced Dinda, in a quality contest between bat and ball in the middle session.
Once 19-year-old Porel, who bowled a consistent line and produced some unplayable deliveries, broke the partnership by having Parthiv caught behind, Amit – 10 years older than his young pace partner – gave Bengal an upper hand with his late strikes.
Running in hard and bowling in good rhythm and pace, Amit controlled the reverse swing well and claimed three wickets in the space of eight deliveries. Manpreet Juneja missed the line, Merai was done in by a fuller one and Chirag Gandhi edged one to the keeper as Gujarat lost four wickets in the final session.
Rujul Bhatt and Piyush Chawla prevented any further damage in their attempt to consolidate the innings.
Earlier, Amit (36) and Gani (49) batted bravely and played some crispy shots in the bright sunny morning as Bengal added 93 runs in about two hours to give its bowlers a total to fight for.
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