Kolkata: An all-round show by Manoj Tiwary put Bengal in the driver's seat against Jammu & Kashmir on the third and penultimate day of their Ranji Trophy Group A cricket fixture at the Eden Gardens here today.
The part-time legspinner Tiwary (2/19) claimed two wickets including that of J&K top run getter Bandeep Singh (73; 8x4, 1x6) to bowl the visitors out for 315 in their first essay, giving Bengal a handy 72-run first innings lead.
The stylish Bengal batsman then decimated the J&K attack, scoring an unbeaten 52 off 37 deliveries (6x4) as they ended the day at 216 for three, a total lead of 288 runs.
"We want to bat tomorrow as well and take the lead to at least 350. Our first target is to secure a draw and then declare as soon as possible," said Tiwary after the third day's play.
Having already ensured three points on basis of their first innings lead, Bengal bowlers would hope that the dead looking Eden Gardens surface aid them on the last day to give them a chance to pocket six points with an outright win.
Bengal approached their second innings positively as the opening pair of Abhimanyu Easwaran (63) and Arindam Das (60) put on 126 runs together at a healthy 4.0 run rate.
Both the openers fell in successive overs but Tiwary was full of elegance as he ensured that Bengal hold on to the momentum with Sudeep Chatterjee giving a perfect support with a 21-ball 29 (4x4) before becoming a victim to J&K skipper Parveez Rasool.
But after that Tiwary stitched an unbroken 36 runs with first innings centurion Wriddhiman Saha (8 batting) as the duo ensured that Bengal scored at 4.90 runs per over so as to give them an ideal score to defend in the J&K second innings.
Earlier, J&K resumed the day on 183 for five but lost Shubham Singh Pundir in the second ball when Bengal's leading wicket taker Ashok Dinda (3/102) castled the left-hander.
But it was Bandeep, who stood tall and took them past the follow-on mark of 237 with No. 9 Ram Dayal who also prove to be a thorn for the Bengal bowlers with a gritty 62 not out (7x4, 1x6).
The two added 90 runs in a crucial eighth-wicket partnership to save the follow-on before Tiwary finally gave Bengal the breakthrough in the second over after lunch.
Tiwary claimed a second in the form of Mohammed Mudhasir to wrap the issue in a fine spell of 3.5-0-15-2.
Bengal: 387 & 216 for 3 in 44 overs (Abhimanyu Easwaran 63, Arindam Das 60, Manoj Tiwary 52 batting).
J&K: 315 all out in 112.5 overs (Bandeep Singh 73, Ian Dev Singh Chauhan 73, Ram Dayal 62 not out; Ashok Dinda 3/102).