Vadodara: A 106-run first innings lead and all-important three points against Baroda ensured that Bengal would stay among the Ranji Trophy Elites for one more season.
However at stumps on third day, Baroda were tottering at 103 for five in their second innings, after Bengal finished at 390 for nine in their first innings.
Having reached the magic figure of 11 points needed to beat the drop, the visitors are now eyeing to go for the kill which is going for a 10-wicket win and ensure six points needed to make it to the knock-out stage. But at the same time, they would need a favourable result from the other match in the group being played between Haryana and Gujarat.
With Rakesh Solanki (55 batting) and Irfan Pathan (4 batting) at the crease, the job is far from over for Bengal bowlers as their fragile opening pair of Arindam Das and debutant Jayojit Basu might not be able to chase anything above 40.
Ashok Dinda (3/43) bowled with lot of fire as Baroda batsmen found his pace too hot to handle. In the first three deliveries of the home team`s second innings, he blasted off openers Anupam Gupta and Aditya Waghmode, both failing to open their accounts. While Gupta was done in by a sharp in-dipper, Waghmode`s stumps were knocked back.
Later, the India hopeful came back to castle Baroda skipper Pinal Shah (10). In between, Sourav Sarkar`s inswinger got rid of Ambati Rayudu (6) while Shatrunjay Gaekwad (24) was caught by Bengal`s centurion Anushtup Majumdar off Veer Pratap Singh`s bowling.
For Majumdar, Moti Bagh ground will forever be a special venue. It was this very ground, where he had scored his maiden first-class century, against Baroda in the 2007-08 season. However his 111 (238 balls, 16x4) on the day was of far more significance as it helped them get rid of the ignominy of relegation. He was finally dismissed by left-arm seamer Sankalp Vohra caught by Shah behind stumps.
Veteran all-rounder Laxmi Ratan Shukla (99, 153 balls, 11x4) should consider himself unlucky as he scored runs at a brisk pace and added 51 runs with Sourav Sarkar (14).
Shukla was bowled through the gate when he tried to go for a backfoot punch off left-arm spinner Swapnil Singh.
Baroda`s left-arm seamer Gagandeep Singh Natt got six for 94 in 36.5 overs.
Brief Scores: Baroda 284 & 103/5 (Rakesh Solanki 55 batting, Ashok Dinda 3/43).
Bengal 390/9 (Anushtup Majumdar 111, LR Shukla 99, Sourav Ganguly 60 retd, Gagandeep Singh Natt 6/94).