Ranji Trophy semifinals: Delhi strikes late, Bengal batsmen bungle

Bengal suffers a big blow as Wriddhiman Saha stays away due to ill health.

Sudeep Chatterjee walks back to the pavilion after being dismissed in Pune on Sunday.   -  Prashant Nakwe

An unexpected bouquet of wickets came Delhi’s way in the final session as Bengal batsmen were left to rue their poor shot selection on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy semifinal here on Sunday.

Batting by choice, Bengal tumbled from 200 for three to 265 for seven at close. The big-scoring batsmen got carried away, with skipper Manoj Tiwary being the biggest culprit. It was his wicket that triggered off the middle-order collapse and brought Delhi bouncing back in the contest.

Manan Sharma’s left-arm spin on a flat wicket served a twin-blow but not without the help of Tiwary and top-scorer Sudip Chatterjee.

As it happened

Tiwary lost his patience and offered a regulation catch at mid-on. Off Manan’s next over, a well-set Sudip Chatterjee missed out on a possible century when he cut a short delivery and ended up offering a low catch at cover. With two reliable batsmen departing in the space of nine runs, Delhi seized the moment and maintained relentless pressure.

The second new-ball struck Anustup Majumdar's off-stump and B. Amit guided a rising ball into the waiting hands of third-man to add to Bengal’s woes. In all, the final session produced 82 runs in 27 overs but four wickets tilted the balance in Delhi’s favour.

In fact, Delhi was pleasantly surprised this morning when Wriddhiman Saha failed to make Bengal’s playing eleven due to indisposition.

However, there was no clarity on the fitness status of the wicketkeeper-batsman.

Scoreboard

If coach Sairaj Bahutule said, “Saha was not feeling well this morning. He complained of fever but the doctor will be able to give you the correct update,” Tiwary put it differently, “Saha had some problem with his body in the morning.”

Any how, Delhi had no reason to complain. The loss of toss proved lucky on a fresh pitch that had its share of moisture and offered good ‘carry’. However, the Delhi seamers Navdeep Saini and Vikas Tokas were guilty of not making the batsmen play much in their opening spells.

Delhi still managed to strike early. A. R. Easwaran, centurion in both innings against Gujarat in the quarterfinals last week, fell leg-before and remained the only batsman on view to fall to a good ball. The delivery from Saini came in, beat the defensive bat and brushed the pads to earn Delhi an important leg-before verdict.

For the rest of the day, the strange pattern of Bengal’s retrieving partnerships being undone by soft dismissals continued.

A sudden rush of blood saw Abhishek Raman stepping out to hoist left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra and offering a firmly-struck return catch. Thereafter, the two Chatterjees – left-handed Sudip and Writtick – added 78 runs for the third-wicket after umpire Nand Kishore erred in judgement.

When Sudip was on 36 and Bengal 109 for two, Sudip edged a delivery from Saini to wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant. Nand Kishore turned down the appeal but replays clearly showed the batsman was out.

The breakthrough 22 runs later came when Writtick fell leg-before. A determined Tiwary and Sudip raised another 68 runs to put Bengal in a position of strength before losing their way.

  Dugout videos