Cuttack: A 167-run unbroken partnership for the seventh wicket between Anustup Majumdar (136 batting, 194b, 20×4) and Shahbaz Ahmed (82 batting, 154b,k 13×4) helped Bengal recover from precarious 46 for five to 308 for six at stumps on the first day of their Ranji Trophy quarterfinal tie against Odisha at the DRIEMS Ground, Thursday.
The DRIEMS pitch is known to help fast bowlers early on and it was no surprise when Odisha skipper Subhranshu Senapati put the visitors in after winning the toss. His decision was vindicated by his fast bowlers as Bengal were reduced to 46 five with the cream of their batting including Manoj Tiwary (4) back in the hut. The Odisha pacers were then making the ball talk and the Bengal batsmen were finding it extremely difficult to negotiate them.
Suryakant Pradhan (2/96) started the slide getting Abhimanyu Easwaran (7) caught behind by Rajesh Dhuper. The slide continued as Koushik Ghosh (9), Abhishek Raman (1), Arnab Nandi (24) and Tiwary fell in quick succession with not even 50 on the board.
But then Majumdar came to the party. Playing his 62nd first class match, the right-handed batsman held the innings together. First he put on 95 runs for the sixth wicket with Shreevats Goswami (34, 75b, 5×4) to stabilise the Bengal innings. And then came the seventh wicket unfinished stand with Shahbaz that may well rule Odisha out of the game.
Majumdar batted with a lot of caution but never let the loose ball go. He was particularly severe on Suryakant hitting the bowler to all parts of the park. Shahbaz, who is more renowned as a left-arm spinner prospered in Majumdar’s company. As his confidence grew he also started playing shots leaving the Odisha bowler’s clueless.
Incidentally this is Majumdar’s eight first class hundred and it couldn’t have come at a better time for Bengal. This being a knockout game, it would have been curtains for them had Majumdar also failed. But when his side needed it the most he got the runs.
Odisha bowlers will have to get into the act quickly Friday morning if they are to keep Bengal below the 350-run mark. Anything over than that will be tough keeping in mind the bowling attack Bengal have. Ishan Porel’s return from New Zealand has certainly given a lot of firepower to the Bengal pace department. And like their Odisha counterparts, they are also capable of using the pitch and conditions to their advantage.
Brief scores: Bengal 308 for 6 (Anustup Majumdar 136 batting, Shahbaz Ahmed 82 batting, P Kanwar Singh Chohan 2/52, Suryakant Pradhan 2/96) vs Odisha. Match to continue.