Railways have a foot in the quarterfinals. They just need to mop up the Bengal tail and have the whole of Saturday to do that. With just four wickets in hand, count that three as an injured Arindam Das is unlikely to bat, Bengal are still 39 behind and may suffer an innings defeat.
Railways took Friday session by session. The first belonged to their batsmen. A demoralised Bengal attack leaked runs to Dhiren Salvi (81), JP Yadav (24) and Nileshkumar Chauhan (26), who stretched the overnight lead of 49 to 145. Then it was up to a cagey Bengal batting, including a struggling Sourav Ganguly, and inspired bowlers, especially JP Yadav and Murali Kartik, that wrote the script in Railways' favour.
Without Arindam Das at the top, Bengal made a jittery start. JP Yadav, on song and bowling with the rhythm and swing of old, was good enough to pluck the openers cheaply - one was leg before the other was bowled with deliveries that seem to come in. The rest of the batsmen went silent and Railways pressed on. Once Manoj Tiwary was dismissed, leg before while trying to sweep Murali Kartik, the writing was on the wall. Sourav Ganguly walked in and walked out after another battle in the middle. Nothing seemed to touch the meat and his return was ignonimous and similar to first innings. An angled bat to an Anureet Singh delivery left his stumps shattered.
Brief Scores: Bengal 201 and 105/6 (L Shukla batting 31, JP 2/12, Kartik 2/30) vs Railways 345 (P Awasthi 73, D Salvi 81 not out, I Saxena 5/78)