Bengal batsmen make merry on lifeless Kotla track

New Delhi: Opener Arindam Das responded to his skipper Manoj Tiwary’s decision to bat first with an unbeaten 150 as Bengal were comfortably placed at 313 for two against Delhi in Group A Super League match of the Ranji Trophy at the Feroz Shah Kotla here on Monday.

Giving Arindam company was captain Tiwary who looked in fine nick, scoring an unbeaten 47 (80 balls, 4x6) and adding 110 runs for the unbroken third-wicket partnership.

Delhi captain Mithun Manhas at the toss said that it was a good toss to lose as he wanted to bowl first having three frontline seamers in Pradeep Sangwan, Parwinder Awana and Sumit Narwal apart from back-up option in Rajat Bhatia.

However the Kotla track turned out to be a lifeless one offering very little help to the bowlers as Arindam showed lot of application and completed his seventh century in first-class cricket.

The Delhi seamers bend their back throughout the day without any result on a track where the ball did not rise above the knee for the better part of the day with odd deliveries turning into shooters.

It was captain Manhas’ 16 overs of off-break that gave Delhi the two wickets of the day.

Arindam, who batted for all of 387 minutes hit 19 boundaries during his 238-ball knock.

He was rarely troubled by the Delhi bowlers during the day. Although he did not play a single risky shot but that also did not deter him and fellow opener Shreevats Goswami (68, 124 balls, 10x4, 1x6) to score freely as they addded 115 runs in the opening session.

With the bowlers hardly getting any movement the only thing that Bengal batsmen needed to be careful was the low bounce.

Shreevats was the dominant partner during the opening stand as hit some delightful shots square of the wicket. There were few shots past the third man region but all were intended ones and with absolutely no carry in the strip, the ball did not fly to the slip cordon.

Shreevats, who was unbeaten on 61 at lunch hit a straight six off Manhas but his impetuousity cost him as he was holed out at mid-on by Narwal while trying to hoick the Delhi skipper again.

Then came a quiet phase of play when debutant Abhishek Chowdhury who was inducted in place of Abhishek Jhunjhunwala failed to get going. Neither was he able to rotate the strike nor was he able to hit boundaries as he consumed 99 deliveries for his painstaking 20 but Arindam duly completed his century hitting Awana to mid-wicket boundary.

Chowdhury’s agony was ended by Manhas when he got one to drift in and found the batsman’s pads although the decision seemed a debatable one.

The final session which yielded 116 runs in 28 overs was the most exciting one for the visitors as both Arindam and Tiwary played some delightful strokes. With leggie Chetanya Nanda looking horribly out of form (he bowled seven out of 13 no-balls), Manhas didn’t have much options to fall back on.

The Tiwary-Arindam duo, who practise under the same coach during off-season, matched each other stroke for stroke.

If Arindam square drove Bhatia followed by nice tuck to the mid-wicket boundary, Tiwary was seen going inside-out to hit Nanda through covers which forced the bowler to pack leg-side with five-men and bowl a negative line. The best stroke of the day, however, was a classical cover drive off Awana that raced to the boundary.

Having already taken the second new-ball, Delhi will hope that they can restrict Bengal within 425 or else it will be an arduous task batting on a wicket which is getting slower and lower with passage of time.