Kolkata: A gritty half-century from Ian Dev Singh Chauhan followed by some lower-order resistance helped Jammu & Kashmir share day two honours with Bengal in their Ranji Trophy cricket Group A fixture here today.
In reply to Bengal's tall first innings score of 387 all out, Jammu & Kashmir ended the day at 183/5 as they need 54 more runs to avoid a follow-on.
The visitors had two mini batting collapses on both side of the lunch break but their in-form batsman Chauhan once again saved them with a counter-attacking 103-ball 72 (10x4, 2x6) on an Eden Gardens track which has eased out considerably.
Shubham Singh Pundir (34 batting) and Bandeep Singh (27 batting) then remained undefeated in an 55-run sixth wicket partnership to frustrate Bengal.
Ahead by 204, Bengal will have the edge with two more days left as the home team would first look to secure a substantial first innings lead before pressing for an outright win.
The highlight of the day was, however, Wriddhiman Saha's magnificent 166 from 252 deliveries (23x4, 2x6) as the wicketkeeper took Bengal to 387 after a top-order flop show yesterday.
Resuming at 312/7 with Saha unbeaten in the overnight score of 129, Bengal lost Ashok Dinda (25) in the sixth over of the day to bring an end to their 42-run ninth-wicket stand.
Watched by former India captain Sourav Ganguly, Saha played his natural game and completed his 150 in 245 balls with a six to Mohammed Mudhasir but he eventually lost his concentration with wickets falling at the other end.
It was Jammu & Kashmir skipper Parveez Rasool (3/70) who brought Saha's downfall when the off-spinner's flighted delivery breached the Bengal batsman's forward defence to end the innings five minutes short of six hours.
Saha also ensured that Bengal lower order contributed handsomely as the last four added 96 to the team tally. With the ball doing little on the flat pitch, Saha was also brilliant behind the wickets and stumped Obaid Haroon behind his legs to trigger a Jammu & Kashmir slide in the post-lunch session.
Chauhan, who scored 93 (vs Karnataka) and 103 (Uttar Pradesh) in previous two matches, rescued the J & K innings as he stitched two useful partnerships of 44 and 40 with Obaid Haroon and Pundir respectively.
On a surface that offered little turn, it was left-arm orthodox spinner Banerjee who looked the most effective as he bowled a tight line en route to his 2/51. But it turned out to be a frustrating day for the Bengal bowlers who struggled to break the partnership of Pundir and Singh.
Brief Scores: Bengal: 387 all out in 108.5 overs (Wriddhiman Saha 166, Laxmi Ratan Shukla 72; Ram Dayal 4/115, Parvez Rasool 3/70).
Jammu & Kashmir: 183/5 in 69 overs (Ian Dev Singh Chauhan 72).