About 2,000 fans were in full voice as Bengal made early inroads. Railways openers Shivkant Shukla and Amit Paunikar were gone with just 28 runs on the board and then they lost three more wickets after lunch. Ashok Dinda was going full tilt and Shib Shankar Paul was supporting him very well.
Together they cleaned up the Railways top half and at 42 for five, the visitors were struggling. Bengal’s first innings score of 307 seemed safe but soon, Railways’ Mahesh Rawat came up with an emphatic response to silence the Eden Gardens faithful.
Rawat decided to take on Dinda, hitting him for six consecutive fours and changed the course of the match. Dinda had just dismissed Karn Sharma – his third wicket — and had his tail up. The next five balls of that over, however, went to the boundary as Rawat unleashed his array of strokes. And when the Bengal medium pacer returned in the next over, Rawat hit another four in his first ball to make it six-out-of-six.
Suddenly, Dinda was made to look pedestrian and his team was completely shaken. Railways wrested back the initiative and finished Day Two of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal match on 233 for five, only 74 behind Bengal.
Rawat, 28, has been Railways’ most prolific scorer this season with 687 runs in eight matches, coming into the quarterfinals. After an unbeaten 105 on Thursday, the wicket-keeper batsman took his tally to 792 at an average of 79.20. This was his third century of the season.
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Proving a point
Arindam Ghosh, who quit Bengal for Railways, also had a point to prove and did it with an unbeaten 78. At the under-16 level, Ghosh was rated on par with the likes of Manoj Tiwary but found it tough to prove himself at Bengal. Ghosh, who made the switch to Railways this year, has been in good form, scoring 680 runs at 75.55 this season. Together Rawat and Ghosh added 191 runs in 281 balls for an unfinished sixth wicket partnership.
Earlier, resuming on overnight 274 for eight, Bengal were all out for 317. Wrddhiman Saha made 87 and added 38 runs with Paul (14 not out) for the last wicket to give the bowlers a decent total to bowl with.
Brief scores: Bengal 317 all out in 101.5 overs (S Chatterjee 96, A Easwaran 65, W Saha 87; A Singh 4/88, M Kartik 2/58) vs Railways 233/5 (M Rawat 105 batting, A Ghosh 78 batting; A Dinda 3/83, SS Paul 2/36)
Bengal middle-order batsman Writtick Chatterjee was docked 10 per cent of his match fee for showing dissent. Chatterjee refused to budge after being given out caught behind on the first day of the quarterfinal match between Bengal and Railways on Wednesday as he felt that Anureet Singh’s bouncer touched his arm guard instead of gloves. “Chatterjee has been fined 10 per cent of his match fee for showing dissent. He was warned in the last match against Tamil Nadu as well. He’s young and hopefully will learn from his mistakes,” match referee Rajendra Jadeja said.