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On seesaw day, Sudip Chatterjee and Abhimanyu Easwaran steady Bengal

From three for two, Sudip and Abhimanyu took the score to 166, thanks to 163-run stand.

Kolkata |
Updated: January 9, 2014 5:20:00 pm
Sudip Chatterjee and Abhimanyu Easwaran (not in picture) added 163 runs after Bengal were 3/2 on Day One. The hosts finished at 274/8 (IE Photo Partha Paul) Sudip Chatterjee and Abhimanyu Easwaran (not in picture) added 163 runs after Bengal were 3/2 on Day One. The hosts finished at 274/8 (IE Photo Partha Paul)

The first day of this Ranji Trophy quarterfinal match here was all about fluctuating fortunes. Losing the toss and batting first on a seamer-friendly pitch, Bengal lost Arindam Das and Subhomoy Das in successive deliveries in the third over. Both were cleaned up by Railways medium-pacer Anureet Singh.

From three for two, Sudip Chatterjee and Abhimanyu Easwaran took the score to 166, thanks to a 163-run partnership for the third wicket. Railways fought back, taking six Bengal wickets for 67 runs. Then Wriddhiman Saha and Ashok Dinda stopped their march, adding 41 runs for the unfinished ninth-wicket partnership.

In the end, honours were even as the hosts reached 274, which is considered a decent number on this surface. The partnership between Chatterjee and Easwaran, however, was the real highlight of the day. It was an association of two youngsters with sharply contrasting backgrounds. Easwaran’s father owns a cricket academy in Dehradun. Chatterjee had to experience hardship to pursue his cricket career. On signing for a club in the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) League, Chatterjee applied for an electricity connection for his house in Basirhat, North 24-Parganas.

Flawless elegance

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Cricket has given him a better life and the 22-year-old now owns a flat in Barasat and drives a second-hand car. Chatterjee was an example of technical excellence against the moving ball. Chatterjee’s cover drives had the trademark grace of a left-hander but more importantly, he didn’t play a single bad shot during his 176-ball knock.

The only time he lost his concentration, he got out chasing an away-going delivery from Anureet. He was on 96. Maybe, he became a little nervous as he approached his maiden first-class hundred and it was a huge disappointment. “The excitement of nearing my maiden first-class ton affected my focus momentarily and I paid the price. But it’s history now as our sole objective is to win the match,” said Chatterjee. “I was determined not play a loose shot. Leaving the ball was important on this pitch and they were bowling very well (in the first session). I had to bide my time,” he added.

Easwaran was very shaky to start with, surviving a very confident leg-before shout in the first ball. He was struggling to put bat on ball in the first few overs. But to his credit, the 18-year-old didn’t throw in the towel. Chatterjee’s steady approach at the other end helped him grow in confidence and Easwaran started to flourish. He got out, trying to square-cut a delivery from leg-spinner Karn Sharma that bounced a little more than expected. The top edge was taken by ‘keeper Mahesh Rawat.

“It was a GenNext partnership,” said Bengal coach Ashok Malhotra.

That the hosts couldn’t build on the foundation laid by the two was due to the fact that the batters who followed didn’t apply themselves properly.

Laxmi Ratan Shukla’s approach against Kartik was a little too aggressive. Shukla perished when his full-blooded sweep ricocheted off forward short-leg fielder Nitin Bhille and went to Rawat. Bengal lost their most prolific batsman of the season. Writtick Chatterjee was bounced out by Anureet, though the batsman felt that the ball hit his arm-guard instead of gloves. He was very reluctant to budge and may have to pay a visit to the match referee.

Amid the slide, Saha kept his cool and played an expert hand to finish the day on 60 not out. In Dinda (17 batting) he found an able ally. For Railways, tireless Anureet was the star performer with four wickets. He moved the ball both ways, troubled the batters with a very deceptive bouncer and never lost energy during long spells. He bowled 28.2 overs before he clutched his groin and hobbled off the field. Railways coach Abhay Sharma, however, said it was “just a cramp”.

Brief Scores: Bengal 274/8 in 90 overs (S Chatterjee 96, A Easwaran 65; A Singh 4/75, M Kartik 2/58) vs Railways

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