Ranji Trophy: Shukla leads Bengal`s recovery against Railways
Kolkata: Skipper Laxmi Ratan Shukla`s valiant unbeaten half-century helped Bengal stage a remarkable fight-back against Railways in their controversy-marred Ranji Trophy quarter-final at the Eden Gardens, here on Friday.
The third day`s proceedings saw both the teams engaged in heated exchange of words as about 2,000-odd spectators also played their part in shouting and booing Murali Kartik.
Bengal players also levelled allegations of ball tampering against Railways skipper Kartik, for which, the left-arm spinner was warned by the on-field umpires. The ball was replaced in the 15th over of the Bengal`s second innings.
But, it was Shukla with his 78-ball 63 (8x4, 1x6) that stole the show as he led the recovery after Bengal were reduced to 40/4.
Shukla found a perfect ally in cool-headed reserve Test specialist Wriddhiman Saha, who played a patient unbeaten knock of 31 from 105 balls (3x4) for the undefeated 93-run stand for the fifth wicket with the skipper as Bengal led by 136 runs with six wickets in hand on the third day.
Only 76.3 overs were possible in the day, including 51 in Bengal`s second innings, something that sums up the time lost in the middle with Kartik engaging in a mind game and apparent sledging.
Mercurial pacer Ashoke Dinda dismissed Arindam Ghosh for 97 (13x4) en route his 6/105 to give hosts a slender three-run lead, which led to wild celebration in the Bengal camp as if they had made the semi-finals.
The Bengal pacer was lifted on shoulders by his teammates with loud cheers from the fans just before lunch.
But Bengal`s joy was shortlived as in no time their scorecard read 40/4 in 21.5 overs with Anureet Singh scalping Abhimanyu Easwaran (0), Subhomoy Das (19) and Sudip Chatterjee (8).
Railways` strike bowler Anureet stepped up the pressure with five maiden overs on the trot in his marathon spell of 13-7-22-3.