Kolkata: A commendable first innings lead of 97 helped hosts Bengal get a sizeable lead of 206 runs against Ranji champions Rajasthan despite a mini batting collapse in the second innings.
At stumps, Bengal were 109 for five with their No 1 batsman Manoj Tiwary back in the pavilion along with the dependable Anustup Majumdar. Glovesman Wriddhiman Saha and veteran Laxmi Ratan Shula were at the crease batting on 5 and 2 respectively.
Earlier, Bengal seamers Sourav sarkar and Shukla shared seven wickets amongst themselves as Rajasthan were bowled out for 161 in 58.1 overs.
Lower-order batsman Madhur Khatri scored a 58-ball 49 and shared 59 runs with glovesman Dishant Yagnik (14) for the seventh wicket to help Rajasthan avoid the follow-on before being bundled out for 161 in their first innings.
In Bengal`s second innings, rookie opener Jayojit Basu`s 48 (95 balls, 8x4) and Writam Porel`s 37 (77b, 5x4) helped them add 75 runs for the second wicket but the other batsmen failed miserably.
Rajasthan struck through Pankaj Singh (3/15) and Aniket Choudhary (2/35) and gave their team enough chances but some sloppy fielding meant that the Bengal duo survived.
Jayojit got a reprieve when on 24 when Rajasthan skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar dropped the opener at the first slip.
First innings hero Subhamoy Das could not do much before perishing to a superb rising delivery from Pankaj, while Tiwary too was caught behind becoming the lanky pacer`s third victim.
Anustup Majumdar (4) edged one off Aniket Choudhary`s bowling to Yagnik. He was finally given out after the third umpire checked the legitimacy of his delivery.
With the pacer duo of Pankaj and Rituraj getting some uneven bounce and movement, Rajasthan would fancy their chances on the final day if they can keep the target around 250 and get enough time to chase it down.
According to Robin Bist,"We will look to bundle them out taking the help of early morning moisture. If the lead crosses 300, then it would be difficult."
"But we will give our best and hope to put on a collective effort tomorrow."
It`s a tricky situation for Bengal who had earlier taken a lead but only to falter in their second essay.
Bengal had a fine start to the day with Sourav Sarkar (4/62) giving the host the breakthrough in the morning with two wickets -- Ashok Menaria (19) and Rashmi Ranjan Parida (3) -- in one over to reduce the visitors to 71/6.
But Khatri displayed an aggressive intent as he scored almost a run-a-ball with 10 exquisite boundaries before missing a fine half-century.
His partnership with wicketkeeper batsman Yagnik was the highlight of the morning as they averted a follow-on before part-time medium pacer Shukla again played the role of partnership breaker.
Tiwary brought on his only spinner Iresh Saxena only after Shukla gave the breakthrough as the left-arm spinner took the last two wickets, having bowled just 2.1 overs.
Bengal 258 and 109/5; 43 overs (Jayojit Basu 48, Writam Porel 37; Pankaj Singh 3/15, Aniket Choudhary 2/35).
Rajsthan 161 in 58.1 overs (Madhur Khatri 49; Sourav Sarkar 4/62, Laxmi Ratan Shukla 3/21).