Railways take first innings lead
Bengal's ambitions of snatching the first innings lead and two points never really got off the ground at the Karnail Singh Stadium on Thursday.
Resuming at 153 for four, they scratched around to score 102 more runs, losing six wickets in the process, handing Railways a lead of 93 runs.
Here too, Bengal had Laxmi Ratan Shukla to thank. Had he not scored a defiant unbeaten 90, Bengal would have been looking down the barrel of the gun.
In reply, Railways were 137 for four, 230 runs to the good. However, with the pitch becoming increasing dodgy, it is unlikely that they will be able to score fast enough to get enough time to dismiss Bengal again.
Also, Bengal would rather go back having conceded two points instead of four. They are not likely to chase anything even marginally beyond feasible.
Shukla was left high and dry as Bengal were unable to put up any stands of consequence. Apart from the 56 runs he and Sourashish Lahiri put up, there was nothing of consequence and wickets fell in a rush.
JP Yadav, who has been having a fine match, was again the thick of things, claiming five for 37 while Saxena grabbed three wickets.
Railways, in their second innings found an able pair in left-hander TP Singh and Amit Pagnis after they had lost Sanjay Bangar early again.
The two scored as quickly as the situation would allow. Defying the track, which has dodgy bounce, and a fair spell once again from Ranadev Bose, they ran between the stumps well and often found the fence.
There seemed to be some sort of plan in their batting, but things fell away as TP Singh was run out after a stand of 90 runs. Yadav was sent in to keep the rate up, but failed, as did Siddharth Verma, and suddenly much of the momentum was lost, as were 10 overs of the day due to bad light.
That deficit of overs, with the time lost on Tuesday, will affect the outcome of the game, which was beginning to look rather interesting.
Railways think 300 may be a good target to set, but time will have a say, as will the light, on the last day on Friday.
Railways 1st innings: 348
Bengal 1st innings: (Das c Harvinder b Yadav 8, Haldipur lbw b Yadav 30, Gandhi c Wankhede b Saxena 18, Dasgupta lbw Saxena 32, Gavaskar b Saxena 24, Shukla not out 90, Sanyal b Bangar 4, Lahiri c Parida b Yadav 10, Lodhgar lbw Harvinder 9, Sabbir b Yadav 0, Bose c Wankhede b Yadav 0, Extras - b6, lb9, nb13, w2 - 30).
Fall of wkts: 1-13, 2-56, 3-100, 4-113, 5-155, 6-163, 7-219, 8-254, 9-255.
Bowling: Harvinder 21-4-73-1, Yadav 27-7-37-5, Saxena 18-3-62-3, Bangar 21-5-39-1, Parida 11-2-25-0, Pagnis 4-1-4-0.
Railways 2nd innings: (Pagnis batting 62, Bangar c Dasgupta b Sabbir 2, TP Singh run out 45, Yadav b Sanyal 5, Verma c Haldipur b Lodhgar 0, Raja Ali batting 11, Extras -- b4, lb1, w2, nb5 - 12).
Total: (for 4 wkts) 137
Fall of wkts: 1-7, 2-97, 3-121, 4-122.
Bowling: Sabbir 8-1-26-1, Bose 10-2-36-0, Lahiri 11-2-39-0, Sanyal 10.1-1-30-1, Lodhgar 2-1-1-1