Bhatia steers Delhi to 392 against Bengal
Kolkata: After Rajat Bhatia slammed an unbeaten 163 to help Delhi post 392 all out in their first innings, Bengal struggled to reach 84 for four at the end of day two of their Ranji Trophy Elite Division Group B match on Wednesday.
The Kolkata Knight Riders` all-rounder in IPL, Bhatia spent about seven hours at the crease hitting 22 fours and a six during his unbeaten 163 from 304 balls and in the process shared a match-turning 132 runs ninth-wicket partnership with rookie number 10 batsman Manoj Chauhan (28).
After resuming at an overnight total of 252 for eight, Bhatia and Chauhan put up 114 runs on day two even as Bengal bowlers struggled to get a breakthrough.
Playing his fourth first-class match, 19-year-old Chauhan was at his defiant best as he faced 151 deliveries to score 28 runs, giving the veteran Delhi player a fine support.
Thereafter left-arm pacer Pradeep Sangwan (2/16) rocked Bengal batting line-up with two wickets in three balls.
Veteran batsman Sourav Ganguly (11) was at the crease along with former skipper Manoj Tiwary (24).
It was a deja vu of sorts for Bengal, who had let Tamil Nadu pile up 391 from 140 for five, to be thrashed by 10 wickets on the same turf in the previous match.
The situation from Bengal`s context this time looked grimmer as they were in a better position -- 84/2 -- after day two against Tamil Nadu but only to be folded for 176 in the first innings.
With a listless and inconsistent batting line-up at their disposal, the duo`s experience and flair will have to come to fore as Bengal still require 158 runs with six wickets in hand to avoid a follow-on and make Delhi bat again.
For the Delhi all-rounder his second first-class century -- 11th overall -- from five matches this season could not have come at a better time.
Bhatia made full use of the flat track as he found a fine ally in four-match-old Chauhan. The duo took their time as they built on their partnership, seeing the first session through without any damage.
There were a couple of difficult chances but it was too much a task for the Bengal fielding who only made the duo's task simpler.
A run out chance early in Chauhan's innings went abegging with wicketkeeper Shreevats Goswami failing to gather the ball while debutante Veer Pratap Singh had a difficult chance from Bhatia as he completed his century.
Bhatia gathered steam after lunch, hitting Iresh Saxena for a six over long on to race to his 150 as the pair did a good rescue act from being 234 for eight yesterday.
The Delhi allrounder gave full credit to Chauhan.
"He (Chauhan) batted really well to give me confidence. I could start playing freely. He took away the pressure from me. This is the best wicket on offer this season," said Bhatia.
Debutant Veer gave Bengal the first breakthrough by uprooting Chauhan's middle stump, 55 minutes after lunch. Then Saxena wrapped it up castling Parvinder Awana before tea.
In reply, Bengal had a typical jittery start when opener Arindam Das (2) was castled by Kuldeep Rawat in the second over of their innings.
Shreevats Goswami had a stroke-filled 14 from 22 balls (3x4) but a misunderstanding with Writam Porel cost the wicketkeeper-batsman dearly as he was run out by Yogesh Nagar.
Left-arm pacer spread terror in Bengal camp, scalping Porel (14) and night-watchman Mohammad Sami Ahmed (0) that brought on Bengal's trusted duo of Tiwary and Ganguly.
Ganguly hit two boundaries in his eight-ball 11 before bad light stopped play.
Brief Scores: Delhi 392 in 138.1 overs (Rajat Bhatia 163 not out, Shikhar Dhawan 76; Ashok Dinda 4/89, Iresh Saxena 3/72).
Bengal 84 for 4 in 22.4 overs (Manoj Tiwary batting 24, Sourav Ganguly 11 batting; Pradeep Sangwan 2/16).