Kolkata: Bengal skipper Laxmi Ratan Shukla stood tall amid ruins with an exquisite century to take his team to a modest 303 against group B leaders Saurashtra in their Ranji Trophy league here, today.
Coming into bat at the fall of fourth wicket in his 99th Ranji Trophy match, Shukla ensured that Bengal gets to the 300-mark as he counter-attacked Saurashtra with an array of classical drives and aggressive pulls in his 163-ball-155, more than half of what Bengal managed in their first innings before being bundled out in 75.2 overs.
On a grassy Eden strip, half of the Bengal side were back in the hut with scoreboard reading 77 for five, but Shukla accompanied with another veteran Subhomoy Das (42) staged a fantastic recovery adding 138 runs for the sixth wicket.
Such was his dominance that 114 runs came in boundaries and sixes. Shukla hit 23 fours and three sixes.
Having taken a break from his commentary assignment, former India captain Sourav Ganguly, who is also the chairman of Bengal`s coaching committee was at the ground, when Shukla cantered to a three-figure mark with couple of classical drives. On reaching 150, Shukla acknowledged the applause from Ganguly especially raising the bat for him.
Terming this as one of his best knocks, Shukla said: "We`re in a difficult situation when I came in to bat, so it`s really a satisfying knock."
Coming to the crease, when Bengal were reeling at 75/4, Shukla`s first hour was all about occupying the crease even as their batting mainstay Wriddhiman Saha (28) got out with an addition of two runs to the total.
Electing to bowl, Saurashtra looked in total command at lunch with Bengal tottering at 84/5 with the new ball bowlers Abhishek Bhat (2/66) and Saurya Sanandiya (2/60), exploiting the early morning, Eden condition to fine effect.
But it was clearly not the day for Saurashtra as Shukla took the attack on the visitors as he repaired the inning`s runs by run posting his halfcentury in 68 deliveries.
His second 50 came in just 48 balls, as he stepped on the gas and cantered to 150 in another 32 balls.
Shukla stepped out to Aarpit Vasavada for successive sixes and then a clean pull over midwicket to Chirag Jani took him to 148 as the Bengal skipper made it more special bringing up 150 that came with a boundary.