It was one of the most dramatic days of action in Ranji Trophy this season so far. Day 2 of the crucial Elite Group B match between Uttar Pradesh and Bengal saw the fall of 22 wickets.
A finish inside three days was looking imminent and it was still anybody’s game.
It was Bengal medium-pacer Ranadeb Bose who generated good pace and got enough swing in the first session to get the hosts out for a paltry 62 in their first innings, 30 minutes before lunch. It gave Bengal a first-innings lead of 131 runs.
Wickets kept tumbling in the second session and it was Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, whose five-wicket haul helped Uttar Pradesh bowl Bengal out for 104.
An eighth-wicket partnership of 56 between Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Sourav Sarkar formed the backbone of the feeble Bengal effort.
With an overall lead of 235, Bengal too bounced back and this time, Bose and Shukla took a wicket each to leave the hosts on 53 for 2 after 13 overs.
Mohammed Kaif and his boys need 183 more with the skipper himself at the crease with Shivakant Shukla.
Few expected such a day of play when Bose gripped the red cherry at the media end. Things started happening in a few minutes with Bose removing Shivakant and Rohit Prakash with successive deliveries in his third over.
This was the beginning of the end for Uttar Pradesh and Bose then got Kaif, Parvinder Singh and Bhuvaneshwar to leave the hosts stranded at five for 15.
Praveen Kumar struck Bose for two cracking fours before another attempt, off Sarkar, was caught at long-off by Sourav Ganguly.
Sarkar and Shukla then joined Bose and shared the remaining four wickets to mow down Uttar Pradesh for their second-lowest total in domestic history, their worst being 48 against Vidarbha in Nagpur in 1965.
Bengal batsmen looked too cautious in the second innings and that approach cost them with Bhuvaneshwar cleaning them up one by one, including two in his second over.
Deep Dasgupta once again failed to come good, while Arindam Das, Wriddhiman Saha, Manoj Tiwary and Rohan Gavaskar couldn't read Bhuvaneshwar's swinging ones. This was Bhuvaneshwar's best effort of the season.
Much depended on Sourav Ganguly, who failed to understand R.P. Singh's away swing to find his stumps uprooted for a duck.
Bengal were seven down for 35 and another low looked on the cards, but Shukla (32, 5x4) and Sarkar (27, 5x4) produced some cracking shots to push the total beyond 100.