Saurashtra in control as Bengal stare at innings defeat

Rajkot: A determined Saurashtra team is closing in on a huge victory over a listless Bengal in a Ranji Trophy Group A league encounter here on Monday.

At stumps on the third day, Bengal were precariously placed at 65 for three chasing a huge target of 431 runs.

With skipper Manoj Tiwary unable to bat in the second innings due to serious back injury, the fragile Bengal batting doesn`t have the wherewithal to bat out an entire day on a track that has offered appreciable turn to left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja and offie Kamlesh Makvana.

Saurashtra declared their second innings at 333 for eight courtesy an unbeaten 118 by Sheldon Jackson who hit 17 boundaries and a six in his 217 ball knock. The foundation of the Saurashtra innings was 116-run stand for the sixth wicket between Jackson and Aarpit Vasavada.

Iresh Saxena returned with figures of 6/133 and a best-ever match-haul of 11/150.

The Bengal batting which has floundered on road during this season again started on an ominous note with veteran opener Arindam Das (4) being trapped leg before by medium pacer Saurya Sanandiya in the second over.

`IPL specialist` Debabrata Das came in and banged three boundaries in T20 mode but offie Makvana saw his back after Nayan Doshi held onto a catch. Das made 12.

Wriddhiman Saha who bailed Bengal out of trouble on the final day against Mumbai wasn`t successful this time as Jadeja trapped him with an arm ball after scoring only 3.

At 28 for three, Rohan Banerjee (28 batting) and Abhishek Jhunjhunwala (18 batting) saw off the remaining 21 overs but their real test will be tomorrow when they have to negotiate the Saurashtra spin-trio on an ever-deteriorating pitch without their best batsman.

Brief Scores: Saurashtra 209 & 333/8 dec (Sheldon Jackson 118 no, Ravindra Jadeja 68, Aarpit Vasavada 59, Iresh Saxena 6/133).

Bengal 112 & 65/3 (Rohan Banerjee 28 batting, Ravindra Jadeja 1/19).