Between the two they have played first-class cricket for 35 years, and they showed they can still baulk the opposition with single-minded application. Railways skipper Sanjay Bangar, 39, and Yere Goud, who will turn 40 in a week, did that to frustrate champions Rajasthan on Day 3 of their Ranji Trophy Super League Group ‘A’ tie on Saturday.
After they amassed 521 for eight declared in their first innings, Rajasthan were sure they could push for victory against the weak opposition on a Karnail Singh Stadium pitch that was not ideal for batting.
The first two days had showed a distinct lack of ambition on the part of Railways, who dropped vital catches to add to the gloom. However, they displayed sharper survival instincts to finish the penultimate day at 274 for four.
Opener and former Uttar Pradesh batsman Shivakant Shukla led the way with an 87 until he became the first of the two leg-before victims of leg-spinner Vivek Yadav, who claimed the three wickets to fall.
Shukla, 25, a former India U-19 player was unlucky to miss out on a century but his valuable 83-run second-wicket partnership with Shreyas Khanolkar (31) set the tone for Railways.
Bangar dug in for almost four hours to follow it up with 79, and at stumps, Goud had plodded on for over three hours to remain 35 not out from 138 deliveries.
Faced with an opposition that has been down and out this season, scoring 242 runs in 85 overs at a meagre 2.84 runs an over, the Rajasthan bowlers could not find quick breakthroughs.
Bangar admitted it was a challenge for the former champions, without any fresh talent in their ranks, to stay positive. “We can’t undo what has happened,” he said, referring to the big defeats against Mumbai and Karnataka, both at home.
The former India opener’s hopes of a century were dashed when he was trapped leg before by Yadav, ending a 169-ball knock containing 11 fours and a six. Wicketkeeper Mahesh Rawat was batting on a breezy 26 when bad light halted play.
Brief scores: Rajasthan 521/8 (R Bist 167, A Menaria 230, Anupreet 5/153); Railways 274/4 (S Shukla 87, S Bangar 79, V Yadav 3/64).