Kolkata: A career-best seven-wicket haul by Pragyan Ojha kept Bengal in line for their first win of the season as they set Vidarbha an imposing 297-run target for a win in their Ranji Trophy Group A cricket match here on Monday.
Having claimed his 23rd five-for yesterday, the left-arm spinner added two more to his tally today to return with his best figures of 7/58 as Vidarbha were bowled out for 202, conceding Bengal a handsome 132-run lead.
Bengal were bowled out for 164 in their second essay which centered around skipper Manoj Tiwary's dogged 63 (127 balls; 8x4) in a strip with cracks and uneven bounce at the Jadavpur University second campus ground to set a tall target.
For Vidarbha, Akshay Wakhare claimed 5/61 to return with a match haul of nine wickets.
At close on the penultimate day, Vidarbha were three for no loss from two overs after bad light stopped play.
The day belonged to the Bengal's new recruit Ojha who kept a steady line and got vicious turn and bounce to trouble the overnight batsmen duo of Shrikant Wagh and Akshay Wakhare who resumed the day with team's score of 141/7.
Ojha dismissed Wakhare (6) leg before wicket with just the addition of two runs to his overnight total to give the first breakthrough this morning.
But thereafter, Wagh (60 not out; 100b, 10x4, 1x6) counter-attacked Ojha to give the visitors some respite. Wagh completed his half century from 82 balls in the 65th over and hit Ojha for a six in the spinner's next over.
But Vidarbha soon ran out of steam after Swapnil Bandiwar (4) became Ojha's seventh victim after he was bowled. "I was confident of doing well... It's about giving your best and bowling consistently. We have a more important day for us tomorrow. It will become all the more special if we're able to win tomorrow," Ojha said after his career-best show.
"The wicket is helping and has enough cracks... We have to bowl in those areas consistently," he added.
Having gone through a difficult time after his action was reported last season, Ojha had to undergo remedial work and joined Bengal ahead of 2015-16.
"It was the biggest challenge... Besides the action, the challenge was to build my mental strength," said Ojha.
Bengal: 334 and 164 in 62.5 overs (Manoj Tiwary 63; Wakhare 5/61) vs Vidarbha 202 in 69.1 overs (Faiz Fazal 63, Shrikant Wagh 60 not out; Pragyan Ojha 7/58) and three for no loss in 2 overs.