Railways captain Murali Kartik took the attack back to the opposition camp with a timely half-century as the visitors need another 154 runs with seven wickets in hand as their Ranji Trophy quarter-final against hosts Bengal hangs in balance at the end of the fourth day.
Chasing a target of 271, Railways were 117 for three at stumps with in-form Arindam Ghosh batting on 14 in company of Nitin Bhille (1 batting).
With Bengal’s nemesis Mahesh Rawat yet to come out, skipper Kartik would expect that his knock of 56 will certainly give Railways the edge over Laxmi Ratan Shukla’s boys.
Earlier, Bengal scored 267 in their second innings courtesy Wriddhiman Saha’s 81 and Ashoke Dinda’s cameo of 27 not out off 24 balls.
Railways were chugging in the right track with 100 for no loss in the 33rd over with Kartik promoting himself to opening slot for the second time this season after their win against Services.
For the Railways, pacer Anureet Singh bagged 5/72 his fifth five-wicket haul this season.
After a controversy-filled last evening when he and pacer Anureet were heckled by spectators, veteran India discard showed a lot of character hitting three sixes en route to a 89-ball half-century as they looked in firm control.
But all hell broke loose at the fag end of the day when Bengal skipper Shukla triggered a collapse in his third over, the 33rd over of the day as Railways lost three wickets for three runs in a space of 17 balls to end the day on backfoot.
Bengal stepped up the tempo after the three wickets as Dinda attacked with a barrage of bouncers while verbal abuses too flew thick and fast in the middle as Railways ended the day for 117/3 after 43 overs, still needing 154 to win with seven wickets in hand.
Kartik shouldered arm to a good length delivery from Shukla only to be adjudged leg before wicket as a sleepy Eden with about 2,000 spectators erupted in joy.
The veteran India left arm spinner hit four boundaries and three sixes in his 102-ball knock. There was more drama when Sourav Sarkar effected a fine run out of Amit Paunikar with a direct hit from deep fine leg.
Going for a second run, Paunikar was short of the crease at the non-striker’s end to see his innings fold for 41 as the Eden crowd who seemed to have gone for an afternoon slumber started roaring.
Just three balls after the direct hit, a charged up Dinda bowled Shivakant Shukla who played on to his stumps and was out for a golden duck to leave Railway reeling for 103/3.
Local lad Ghosh was ‘escorted’ by Dinda and Sarkar, who were apparently sledging, as he came up to the crease in what was another thrilling day.
But it was a different picture an continued…