Guwahati: Bengal are on the verge of qualifying for the quarterfinals of the Ranji Trophy cricket after forcing Assam to follow on in their final Group A match here yesterday.
The visiting side asked Assam to follow on after skittling the home side out for 143 in their first innings on the third day to ensure that they do not lose the match at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium. Assam, who conceded a massive 301-run first innings lead to Bengal, ended the day on 72 for 2 in 36 overs in their second essay.
With just one day left in the match, Assam can only save the match as they need to score another 230 runs to make Bengal bat again. Bengal, on the other hand, cannot lose from here. Even in case they could not force an outright win tonight, they will end among the top three in Group A on the basis of first-innings lead.
Delhi, Assam and Bengal are on 25 points each while Karnataka and Vidarbha are on 24 and 22 in Group A. Delhi have already played all their eight matches while the other four teams are playing their last games. Three team from Group will qualify for the quarterfinals.
For Bengal, pacer Mukesh Kumar and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha took three wickets apiece to rattle the Assam batsmen who resumed the day at a precarious 1/4.
Speedster Ashok Dinda could not add any wicket yesterday to the four he grabbed in two overs in a devastating spell yesterday.
For Assam, Tarjinder Singh top-scored in their first innings with a 128-ball 50 and he shared 59 runs with Jamaluddin Syed Mohammad (31) for the seventh wicket to save Assam from being bowled out below 100.
In their second innings, Assam batted with a lot of caution with opener Pallavkumar Das remaining not out with a 102-ball 28. Captain Gokul Sharma was giving him company at stumps on 8.
Bengal: 444/6 declared Assam: 143 (Tarjinder Singh 50; Ashok Dinda 4/39, Mukesh Kumar 3/20, Pragyan Ojha 3/33) & 72/2 from 36 overs (f/o).