Abhimanyu Easwaran batted like a man possessed. Even as some of his teammates failed to convert good starts, the 23-year-old opener struck a brilliant century (186, 337b,17x4, 1x6) to help Bengal score a challenging 336 in the first innings against Hyderabad on the second day of the four-day Ranji Trophy Group B match at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Saturday.

In reply, the home team suffered a big blow when captain and opener Akshath Reddy was declared caught behind off pacer Ashoke Dinda in fading light. A disappointed Akshath took a long time before making the long walk back to the pavilion.

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Earlier, resuming at 99 for two, Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary perished cheaply to pacer Mohammed Siraj who induced a nick to wicketkeeper K.S.K. Chaitanya.

Then a crucial 83-run stand for the fourth wicket between Easwaran, who cracked his eighth First Class century in his 39th game, and Anustup Majumdar pushed the host on to the backfoot.

It was again left to the spirited pace duo of Ravi Kiran and left-armer Chama Milind to strike at regular intervals to bring the team back into the game and the former finished with a creditable, four-wicket haul.

But Easwaran came up with a classy knock, avoiding risks while cashing in on loose balls. However, Easwaran was eventually out caught behind by Chaitanya, who dived to his left on the leg-side to deny Easwaran what would have been a truly deserving double century.

At Hyderabad:  Bengal 336 in 120.3 overs (Abhimanyu Easwaran 186, Ravi Kiran four for 46) vs. Hyderabad 20 for one in 9 overs.