Ranji Trophy quarter-finals: MP take big lead on day dominated by pacers

On a day dominated by pace bowlers from both sides, Madhya Pradesh held the upper hand over Bengal by taking a handsome first innings lead of 227 runs after skittling out the latter for a paltry 121 in their Ranji Trophy quarter final at the Brabourne Stadium today.

Choosing not to enforce the follow-on, MP ended day two of the five-day game at 14 without loss in their second innings - for an overall lead of 241 - with openers Aditya Shrivastava, who top-scored with 65 in the first essay, batting on 10, and Jalaj Saxena on 4.

Bengal did well this morning when their pace duo of Veer Pratap Singh and Ashok Dinda utilised the second new ball, taken last evening, productively to grab the last six MP wickets for the addition of 94 runs to the overnight 254 for 4.

The duo showed better control than yesterday on a helpful track to share the six wickets equally this morning and restrict MP to 348 after they appeared headed for a much bigger total when play commenced Day 2.

However, the Bengal batsmen showed little application, barring opener Abhimanyu Easwaran who stood tall while wickets fell around him to make a gritty 48, as the MP pace attack led by Ishwar Pandey, sliced through their top order.

But for Easwaran's watchful 149-minute essay in which he faced 100 balls and hit six fours and showed good technique against the pacers, there was little of note in their batting.

Captain Manoj Tiwary (3) and Test wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha (0) were dismissed in successive overs in Pandey's incisive second spell of 5-2-8-2. Then Pandey's new ball partner Puneet Datey, who got good lift off the track, dismissed Easwaran and Kumar Shaw in successive overs in his second spell of 6-0-14-2 to leave Bengal tottering at 72 for 6 before Shreevats Goswami (22) and Ashok Dinda (21) made sure the total crossed 100.

All the ten Bengal wickets to fall were shared by the MP medium pace trio of Pandey (4 for 45), Puneet Datey (3 for 30) and Chandrakant Sakure (3 for 38). Spin was not used at all.

Brief scores: MP 348 (A Shrivastava 65, N Ojha 64, D Bundela 58, Harpreet Bhatia 51, A Dane 39; A Dinda 3 for 85, Veerpratap Singh 5 for 76) and 14 for no loss. Bengal 121 (A Easwaran 48; I Pandey 4 for 45, P Datey 3 for 30, C Sakure 3 for 38).

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