Middle-order batsman Sangram Atitkar hammered a listless Bengal attack into submission with a brilliant 168 as Maharashtra took a mammoth first innings lead to set sights on an innings victory by stumps on the second day of Ranji Trophy semi-final here on Sunday.
After their batsmen were bowled out for a paltry 114 --their lowest score in the current season, the Bengal bowlers fared no better as Maharashtra scored an imposing 455 in their first innings. This is incidentally is the highest score conceded by Ashok Dinda and Co this season.
After taking a massive 341-run lead, Maharashtra bowlers came out all guns blazing as they reduced Bengal to 16 for one in the five overs.
Bengal batsmen need another 326 runs to avoid innings defeat which looks imminent at the moment after left-arm seamer Samad Fallah again dismissed opener Koushik Ghosh (9), as Arindam Das (7 batting) remained at the other end.
In a single match, Bengal have scored their lowest total and conceded their highest runs which is not a statistic that will please their fans.
The Maharashtra batsmen led by Atitkar showed a lot of positive intent on the day as they took apart the Bengal bowling scoring their runs at a rate of above 3.5 runs per over which was fantastic by first-class standard.
After skipper Laxmi Ratan Shukla (3/76) dismissed his counterpart Rohit Motwani (8) with the team total reading 164 for five, Bengal bowlers suddenly lost grip of the match.
Atitkar, who smashed 29 boundaries in 228 balls joined forces with Ankit Bawne (89, 208 balls, 14x4, 1x6) as the duo slowly added 113 runs for the sixth wicket. With a lot of time at their disposal, they grinded the opposition into submission.
Dinda (3/114), who recently had threatened to quit Bengal for not getting a national call-up, looked one dimensional as he either bowled the fuller delivery or the short pitched stuff which was easily negotiated by the batsmen. With no distinct variations in his delivery, he was taken apart by Atitkar.