Mumbai: Mumbai rode on Hiken Shah's third successive ton to set Bengal a stiff target of 391 to win their Group A Ranji Trophy league match, after declaring second innings at 294 for 5 on the third, penultimate day on Monday. (In pic: Hiken Shah celebrating his century)
Bengal were 47 without loss in 16 overs that they batted with openers Arindam Das and Rohan Banerjee batting on 19 and 23 respectively.
The visitors need 344 runs on the final day tomorrow in a minimum of 90 overs -- with all wickets intact -- for a win on Brabourne Stadium wicket which seems to have eased out.
Mumbai, who led Bengal by 96 runs in the first innings and started the day at 6 without loss, lost the wickets of Wasim Jaffer (19), Kaustubh Pawar (31) and skipper Rohit Sharma, who again flopped in the game by making 14, before the left-handed pair of Shah and Abhishek Nayar propped up the innings.
Shah, who notched up 108 in 209 balls with 16 hits to the fence before being dismissed by Shami Ahmed, and Nayar, who cracked his second half ton of the game while making 73 not out in 90 balls, had a century stand for the fourth wicket.
Having scored centuries in games against Rajasthan and Hyderabad, Shah was in blazing form and along with Nayar, who struck 5 fours and a six, put on 158 runs to help Mumbai apply the closure 40 minutes before the scheduled close of play.
The home team declared once Aditya Tare fell to a catch in the deep after making a quickfire 19 off 11 balls with three fours and a six.
But Bengal openers Das and Banerjee had no trouble in negotiating the Mumbai attack in fading light, and remained undefeated for resumption of the battle tomorrow. Bengal pacer Shami Ahmed, who went wicketless in the first innings, got two big wickets in the second.
He first packed off Jaffer, who shouldered arms to an incoming ball and was bowled, and then Shah, who was caught at mid-on, to finish with the innings top bowling figures of 2 for 39.
Sharma, who made 1 in the first innings, got into double figures in the second after being dropped first ball before Laxmi Ratan Shukla got his wicket for the second time in the game as he aimed for a drive and lost his stumps.
Between these two dismissals, opener Pawar fell to Abhishek Jhunjhunwala.
It was left to Shah (who had made 92 for Mumbai A against the visiting England team in the latter's second warm-up game) and Nayar to stem the slide and give the visitors a challenging total to chase in the fourth innings.
Shah completed his ton in style with a reverse-swept four off Jhunjhunwala in 193 balls after Nayar got to his fifty in 68 balls.
Both batsmen looked well in control before Shah tried for some quick runs and holed out to mid-on.
Tare, who joined Nayar, was on the offensive from the beginning and clouted Veerpratap Singh for a pulled six and a four before being caught in the deep.
Brief scores: Mumbai 297 and 294/5 decl (Hiken Shah 108, Abhishek Nayar not out 73; Shami Ahmed 2 for 39).
Bengal 201 and 47 for no loss (Arindam Das 19 batting , Rohan Banerjee 23 batting).