Kumar Suraj (89 n.o., 175b, 9x4) stood firm amidst challenges to score an unbeaten half-century and help Jharkhand put up 173 in its first innings on the opening day of its Ranji Trophy quarterfinal match against Bengal at the Eden Gardens here on Tuesday.
Jharkhand struggled against Bengal’s competent pace quartet, in the absence of Saurabh Tiwary, who twisted his ankle during morning practice, .
The sprightly Akash Deep, who captured four wickets, led the pack to mark a successful comeback after missing most of the match against Odisha due to concussion.
Bengal, which seized initiative by bundling out Jharkhand, could not begin its innings due to bad light.
On a helpful track in the morning, Akash Deep dealt the first blow in the sixth over by hitting Kumar Deobrat’s off-stump with a gem of a delivery. He produced another to find Aryaman Sen’s outside edge.
Other pacers chipped in to tighten the screw.
Akash Ghatak bowled Jharkhand skipper Virat Singh and Mukesh Kumar, returning to the squad, had Anukul Roy caught at first slip.
Akash Deep forced an edge of talented wicketkeeper-batter Kumar Kushagra to second slip as Jharkhand tottered at 77 for five.
Mukesh, who broke the 32-run partnership between Suraj and Pankaj Kumar, secured three wickets.
Akash Deep trapped Shahbaz Nadeem in front to claim his fourth wicket, while Ishan Porel, bowling economically, scalped one.
Nothing could deter the gritty Suraj, though. Holding one end, the left-hander placed the ball in the gaps to get his boundaries.
Suraj, dropped once, had another lucky escape on 73. Manoj Tiwary claimed a low catch at first slip off Akash Deep, but the on-field umpires neither agreed with the Bengal skipper nor referred it upstairs.
Suraj’s valuable stands worth 30 and 20 with lower order batters, Nadeem and Ashish Kumar respectively, took Jharkhand past 150.
Jharkhand -- 1st innings: Kumar Deobrat b Akash Deep 8, Aryaman Sen v Abishek b Akash Deep 4, Kumar Suraj (not out) 89, Virat Singh b Ghatak 6, Anukul Roy c Tiwary b Mukesh 4, Kumar Kushagra c Abhimanyu b Akash Deep 4, Pankaj Kumar c Tiwary b Mukesh 21, Supriyo Chakraborty b Ishan 6, Shahbaz Nadeem lbw b Akash Deep 10, Rahul Shukla c Abishek b Mukesh 0, Ashish Kumar (run out) 12, Extras (lb-3, nb-3, w-3) 9, Total (in 66.2 overs) 173
Fall of wickets: 1-10, 2-31, 3-56, 4-61, 5-77, 6-109, 7-120, 8-150, 9-153
Bengal bowling: Mukesh 21.2-3-61-3, Ishan 16-5-26-1, Akash Deep 21-5-62-4, Tiwary 1-0-6-0, Ghatak 7-2-15-1.