Railways pace duo of Anureet Singh and Krishna Kant Upadhyay took 35 balls to dismiss the remaining three Bengal batsmen as the home team got three important points by virtue of their first innings lead of 36 runs in a Ranji Trophy Group B encounter in New Delhi on Monday.
Railways are very much in the hunt with 20 points from five games, while Bengal's chances of making it to last eight is slowly evaporating with only 12 from five games. Needing 55 runs to overtake Railways' first innings score of 306, Bengal could add only 18 runs to their overnight score as they were bowled out for 270 in 133.5 overs with skipper Laxmi Ratan Shukla remaining stranded on a well-made 95 (143b, 9x4, 2x6).
It was a matter of one wicket as Railways needed to get rid of the gritty Iresh Saxena, who batted for nearly two hours playing 84 balls for his six. His luck finally ran out when Anureet (5/97) completed his five-for with a ball that came in and the Bengal batsman was trapped leg before.
There was a strategic mistake from Shukla, who was exposing Saxena to the pacers on a early morning track by playing the single within the first two balls and there was always a danger of a tail-ender being found wanting.
There was no love lost between new man Ashok Dinda and the Railways players with skipper Murali Kartik standing near the striker's end to welcome the Bengal speedster. Kartik must have been saying something uncharitable to Dinda on the pretext of setting the field as umpire Milind Pathak had to intervene and tell Kartik to get back to his place.
A few balls later, Dinda pulled Anureet to boundary and waved his bat in 'Sreesanth fashion' (Durban 2006 after hitting Andre Nel). After a few airy shots, Dinda was destined to play a mistimed pull-shot which was gleefully accepted by the bowler Krishna Kant Upadhyay (3/78).
The very next delivery saw Shib Shankar Paul walk down the pitch like Robin Uthappa, only to play a faulty forward defensive stroke that saw his stumps cartwheeling and Upadhyay made an ugly gesture of a kick, which saw the umpire talking to the pacer. (Tension at Jamia ground after Murali Kartik 'Mankaded' Bengal player)
Upadhyay later told PTI he was furious after Dinda made a "few unsavory comments". The match only had some academic interest left and Dinda did his bit of 'Gamesmanship' by trying to 'Mankad' Shivakant Shukla but the ball didn't hit the stumps. Railways finally ended the day at 193 for two as Nitin Bhille completed his second first-class century, courtesy Murali Kartik's decision to continue playing during the mandatory overs which led to Bengal players refusing to shake hands with their opponents at the end of the match. Bengal captain Laxmi Ratan ShuklaÂ (in pic) suffered a groin injury but is expected to be fit before the UP match, starting on December 14. (Bengal players refuse post-match handshakes)
Asked about Gitomoy Basu's 56 in six and half hours, Shukla defended the keeper, "He didn't play any cricket for the last six months as club cricket in Bengal hasn't started yet. He was also not in original 30. I hoped Anustup would do well but I don't know what the selection will be for the next round."
Railways coach Abhay Sharma was happy that his boys were able to get three points from a match that he termed as "very competitive one". About his decision to continue batting, Sharma said that since Bhille wasn't being able to get centuries, he wanted to give the man a fair opportunity to get one.
Brief Scores: Railways 306 & 193/2 in 80 overs (Nitin Bhille 100*, Karn Sharma 80). Bengal 270 in 133.5 overs (Laxmi Ratan Shukla 95 no, Gitimoy Basu 56). Points: Railways 3; Bengal 1