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The visitors had already conceded a 266-run first innings lead and their only hope of getting something out of this match rested on denying the hosts early wickets in the second innings. With Dinda spitting fire, that hope quickly evaporated and by stumps on Day 3, Gujarat were staring down the barrel at 18/4.
They need an effort of epic proportions to deny Bengal an outright win and a bonus point on the final day. On the evidence of their performance thus far in the match, however, it is asking for a bit too much.
Gujarat were deflated by a patient 191 by Manoj Tiwary and free-flowing, almost-run-a-ball 113 by Laxmi Ratan Shukla. And it reflected in the way their top-order responded. Priyank Panchal (0) self-destructed, having sent back hopelessly by his opening partner Smit Patel midway into a single in the second over. Niraj Patel (0) edged Dinda to second slip, paying the price for playing away from his body. Smit missed a straight ball from Sarkar and was bowled. Bengal needed their captain Parthiv Patel to show the way, but he simply followed the top three into the dressing room.
Part-time spinner Tiwary was bowling as the light became too poor for the pacers to operate. Parthiv, batting on 12, misread a zooter from Tiwary, edged and wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha took a low catch in his second attempt. It rounded off an almost perfect day for Tiwary.
In this match Tiwary hasn't put a foot wrong. Resuming on overnight 102, the Bengal captain was at ease and toyed with the Gujarat bowling. The double hundred was there for the taking but he fell nine runs short when a Faizal Dhudhat delivery stopped on him and forced him to play early. Rujul Bhatt took an easy catch at the cover region and Tiwary departed to a standing ovation.
He batted for seven hours and 45 minutes, hit 21 boundaries and a six, and took his team from 19/2 to 419/6. Anustup Majumder, too, batted well for his 68 and played an important role in the 145-run fifth wicket partnership with Tiwary. The knock of the day, however, came from Bengal's unsung hero Shukla, who scored his sixth first-class hundred.
The veteran -- not by age but by experience -- has been the team's most consistent cricketer for many seasons. Shukla got the BCCI's best all-rounder award for his last season's performance in limited-overs cricket. And he is a top performer in the longer format as well.
A Different bloke
He scored 91 not out against Punjab in the last match but that came in a losing cause. In fact, at No. 7, Shukla does not often get a chance to play without pressure. Today was different and Shukla enjoyed his batting.
Bengal were 220/4 overnight and got past Gujarat's first innings total in the 18th over of the day. When Shukla arrived, the team were sitting pretty at 343/5 — an ideal situation for the all-rounder to up the ante. He did just that - cutting, pulling and driving, and occasionally sending left-arm spinner Rakesh Dhruve over the fence. He had a reprieve though, when on 51, Manprit Juneja dropped him at the first slip. His hundred came with a six.
Gujarat lost their bowling discipline on Monday and offered too many boundary balls. In Venugopal Rao, they have an outstation professional who is at the crease. And he needs to use all his experience and ability to help his adopted team get out of the hole.
Brief scores: Gujarat 260 all out and 18/4 in 9 overs (Venugopal Rao batting 2, R Kalaria batting 0; A Dinda 1/9, S Sarkar 1/1, M Tiwary 1/6) vs Bengal 526/7 decl in 138 overs (M Tiwary 191, L R Shukla 113 not out, A Majumder 68; R Kalaria 3/116)
Tamil Nadu in driver’s seat
Chennai: With a full day to spare, Tamil Nadu were well on their way to achieve an outright win over Maharashtra, who were reeling at 75 for eight while facing a target of 193, on the penultimate day of their Group B match. Tamil Nadu started their second essay with a cushion of 43 runs, but Maharashtra bowlers put paid to their aspirations and dismissed them for a mere 149 in 49.1 overs, thanks to good efforts by spinners Akshay Darekar (4/64) and Chirag Khurana (4/27). Baba Aparajith (35) and wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik (35) were the ones who resisted for sometime, before losing their wickets. However, the Tamil Nadu bowlers did a shade better than their rivals, bowling to a good line and length, which troubled the Maharashtra batsmen throughout at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. Four of the six bowlers who operated — L Balaji, R Aushik Srinivas, M Rangarajan and Yo Mahesh — claimed two wickets each.
Brief scores: Tamil Nadu 276 & 149 all out in 49.1 overs (B Aparajith 35, KD Karthik 35; Darekar 4/61, Khurana 4/27) vs Maharashtra 233 & 75/8 (Ankit Bawne batting 18; Yo Mahesh 2/10, L Balaji 2/13)
Paunikar stars for Railways
Bhubaneswar: Riding on Amit Paunikar's unbeaten century, Railways produced a much-improved batting display to finish at 183 for two in their second innings and take an overall lead of 74 runs against Punjab at the end of third day's play in their Group A match. At stumps, Paunikar was unbeaten on 113 off 156 balls with the help of 18 fours and a six. Paunikar was ably supported by his opening team-mate V Cheluvaraj (40 off 81 balls) as the two produced 108 runs for the opening stand. Punjab's overnight star batsman Uday Kaul could add just four runs to his Sunday's score to complete his century before Railways skipper Sanjay Bangar cut short his stay, caught by Anureet Singh.
Brief scores: Punjab 314 all out in 105.2 overs (U Kaul 100, Amitoze Singh 55, Bipul Sharma 45; Hardik Rathod 3/75) vs Railways 205 and 183/2
rohtak: Jayant Yadav (66) hit a belligerent half-century as Haryana set a 148-run target and then took three Orissa wickets on the third day. After folding for a humiliating 66 in the first innings, Haryana scored 300 in the second, courtesy their lower-middle order. Chasing 148 for an outright win, Orissa ended the day at 60 for three with Govind Podder (19) at the crease. Resuming at 165/6, Haryana added 155 more runs as Yadav scored 66 and shared a superb 72-runs stand for the ninth wicket with Mohit Sharma (28). Haryana lost Abhimanyu Khod (74) in the first session but Yadav continued to fight from the other end and was the last man out. Yadav's 66 came off 148 balls as he batted for three hours and 37 minutes. Haryana bowlers then did a good job by knocking out three top-order batsmen. Mohit Sharma drew the first blood when he had rival skipper Natraj Behera (17) caught by Rahul Dewan. Chanderpal Saini trapped the other opener Sandeep Mulia (12). Yadav dismissed Biplab Samantray (8) to end the day on a high.
Brief scores: Haryana 66 and 300 all out in 129.2 overs. (A Khod 74, J Yadav 66; B Mohanty 4/57) Orissa 219 and 60 for 3 in 24.3 overs (G Podder 19 batting; J Yadav 1/4)
Saurashtra eye outright win
hyderabad: Favourites Saurashtra are in a comfortable position for an outright win over Hyderabad after taking an overall lead of 344 runs at stumps on the third and penultimate day of their Group A match. At close, Saurashtra were comfortably placed at 270 for six in their second innings with wicketkeeper Sagar Jogiyani top-scoring with a 195-ball 69, followed by contributions from skipper Jaydev Shah (55), opener Chirag Pathak (43) and unbeaten Shitanshu Kotak (47).For Hyderabad, leg-spinner Akash Bhandari (4/92) accounted for four of the six Saurashtra wickets that fell on Monday. Saurashtra is expected to press for an outright victory by declaring their second innings early at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium. Earlier, Ravindra Jadeja snapped six wickets in a brilliant bowling performance to help Saurashtra shot out Hyderabad for a paltry 186 to take a crucial 74-run first-innings lead.
Brief scores: Saurashtra 260 & 270 for six in 90 overs (Sagar Jogiyani 69, Jaydev Shah 55; Akash Bhandadri 4/92) vs Hyderabad 186 all out in 87.3 overs (Akshath Reddy 51, Syed Quadri 48 not out; Ravindra Jadeja 6/71)
Jamshedpur: Jharkhand 360 all out in 151.4 overs (M Vardhan 73, K Deobrat 58; SS Bandekar 4/76) vs Goa 208 all out in 71.3 overs & f/o 16 for no loss in 6 overs (S Kamat batting 8)
Nadaun: Andhra 372 all out in 99 overs & 181 for 3 in 69 overs (A Mazumdar 89, B Sumanth 73; R Dhawan 3/53) vs Himachal Pradesh 265 all out in 95.4 overs (P Dogra 122, R Dogra 40; P Vijaykumar 6/80)
Malappuram: Kerala 264 & 168/1 (V Jagadeesh batting 92, A Hegde batting 74; A Ahmed 1/20) vs Assam 286 all out in 97.3 overs (Dheeraj Jadhav 98, Tarjinder Singh 92; SK Cheruvathur 3/45, P Anthaf 3/63)
Jaipur: MP 256 & 200 for 1 in 60 overs (Naman Ojha 102, Zafar Ali 54) vs Rajasthan 379 (R Parida 108, R Bist 85; I Pandey 6/92)