Mohali: A responsible innings by Wriddhiman Saha and his century-partnership with senior pro Laxmi Ratan Shukla helped Bengal end the first day's play against Punjab at a respectable 280 for seven.
Wriddhiman and Shukla added 124 runs for the sixth wicket as Bengal who were tottering at 118 for five.
Team India's reserve glovesman was batting on 75 made off 155 balls with the help of nine fours and six while Shukla contributed 62 useful runs with 10 boundaries. More importantly the former Bengal skipper hung around for 105 balls which also gave Wriddhiman a chance to plan his innings.
Wriddhiman was absolutely flawless during his undefeated knock and the six was a straight hit over long off left-arm spinner Bipul Sharma. He was patient and waited for the loose deliveries.
Incidentally, this was Wriddhiman's third consecutive half century this season having scored 59 and 65 not out against Rajasthan in the opening game.
Punjab skipper Mandeep Singh opted to field on a track which had some assistance for the seamers as Bengal.
Opener Jayojit Basu's (7) inexperience at first-class level was exposed once again during his 27-ball knock. He fished at an outgoing delivery from Manpreet Gony into wicketkeeper Uday Kaul's hand.
Subhamoy Das (28, 5x4) and Writam Porel (33, 3x4) then took the score past 50 but second change medium fast bowler Amitoze Singh breached through Subhamoy's defence.
Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary (20, 32 balls, 3x4) was getting set when Gony induced an edge that flew to rival skipper Mandeep singh at slips.
With Porel and Anustup Majumdar (22) also gone, Bengal were in dire straits when Wriddhiman and Shukla joined hands.
India discard Rahul Sharma gave away 50 runs in 11 overs and was punished on several occasions by Wriddhiman and Shukla in particular. However Sharma had the last laugh as he dismissed Shukla to bring Punjab back in the match.
A target in excess of 325 is something that Bengal will be looking at before they unleash their pace weapon Ashok Dinda on the confident Punjab batting line-up.
Brief Scores: Bengal 280/7 (W Saha 75 batting, LR Shukla 62, MS Gony 2/35, S Sharma 2/50, R Sharma 1/50) vs Punjab.