Kolkata: Patient half-centuries by Wriddhiman Saha and Rohan Banerjee after an impressive morning spell by Shami Ahmed helped Bengal record their maiden outright win in this edition of Ranji Trophy beating Hyderabad by four wickets on the third day at Eden Gardens.
Chasing a target of 181, Bengal knocked off the runs at the end of 63 overs largely due to a 79-run fourth wicket partnership between left-handed opener Banerjee, who scored 56 while Test team's reserve glovesman Saha remained unbeaten on 52.
Bengal now have 13 points from seven games and have a very slim chance of making it to the knock-out stage provided they get seven against Railways from their last game and have a few favourable results going their way.
In the morning, Shami removed two of the remaining three Hyderabad batsmen to get them all-out for 181 with an overall lead of 180. Shami got six for 71 in the second innings and finished with a match-haul of 10 for 107 - his second 10-for this season. It took only 5.2 overs and 28 minutes to wrap up the Hyderabad innings after they added nine runs to their overnight total.
Bengal had an ominous start to the run chase when Hyderabad rocked the top-order to reduce Bengal to 47 for three. But Wriddhiman and Banerjee ensured that there weren't much hiccups to the run-chase.
Stand-in captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla also hit an unbeaten 22 off only 12 deliveries with five boundaries to finish it with a flourish.
Vice-captain Wriddhiman carried the bat through while Bengal's bowling hero Shami took the winning run when his single to mid-on translated into five runs after an overthrow by rival wicketkeeper K Sumanth.
Brief Scores: Hyderabad 115 and 181 in 62.4 overs (Ahmed Quadri 22; Shami Ahmed 6 for 71, LR Shukla 3 for 38). Bengal 116 and 183 for 6 in 63 overs (Rohan Banerjee 56, Wriddhiman Saha 52 not out, Anwar Khan 3 for 68, Ashish Reddy 2 for 55). Bengal won by 4 wickets. Bengal 6 points; Hyderabad 0.
In Bhubaneswar, Railways looked on course for an outright victory after pacer Anureet Singh's five-wicket burst helped the hosts to enforce follow-on on defending champions Rajasthan.
After being bowled out for 135 in their first innings that gave Railways a substantial lead, the visitors were 153 for two at the close of play on the third day.
At stumps, Robin Bist (35) and Ashok Maneria (29) were at the crease. Ahead of a gruelling final day's play, Rajasthan trailed Railways by 117 runs with eight wickets remaining.
Resuming on 56 for three in response to the hosts' first-innings total of 405, Rajasthan lost wickets at regular intervals to lend Railways the upper hand.
Anureet finished with figures of five for 40 from his 24 overs, while his other pace colleague, Ranjitkumar Mali, picked up three wickets for 42 runs. Skipper Sanjay Bangar also chipped in with two wickets.
Brief scores: Railways 405, Rajasthan 135 and 153 for 2 (Robin Bist 35 batting, Ashok Maneria 29 batting, Mali 1 for 26)
Mumbai vs Saurashtra:
In Rajkot, after a commanding batting display, Mumbai put up an impressive bowling performance to wrest control over Saurashtra.
Resuming at the overnight score of 42 for two in reply to Mumbai's mammoth first innings total of 606 for five declared, Saurashtra ended the third and penultimate day's play at 248 eight in 105 overs.
Skipper Ajit Agarkar (2 for 55), Dhawal Kulkarni (2 for 57), Javed Khan (2 for 32) and left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdullah (2 for 27) picked up two wickets each for Mumbai.
Middle-order batsman Aarpit Vasavada remained unbeaten on 83 to keep Saurashtra's innings afloat, while captain Jaydev Shah added 32 more runs to his overnight score of 28 to complete a half century.
Left-arm pacer Jaydev Unadkat (5 not out) was giving Vasavada company at the crease when stumps were drawn.
Saurashtra still trail Mumbai by 358 runs with two wickets in hand.
With an outright win very much on the cards for Mumbai, the visitors would be eyeing to wrap up the Saurashtra innings early tomorrow morning and then enfoce the follow on.
Brief scores: Mumbai 1st innings: 606 for five declared in 162 overs (Aditya Tare 222, Rohit Sharma 166; Kamlesh Makvana 2 for 129)
Saurashtra 1st innings: 248 for eight in 105 overs (Aarpit Vasavada 83 not out, Jaydev Shah 60; Iqbal Abdullah 2 for 27).
Madhya Pradesh vs Punjab:
In Gwalior, Yuvraj Singh responded his exclusion from the national side with a timely century as Punjab ended the Day 3 at 354 for eight following-on, with an overall lead of 179 against Madhya Pradesh.
Yuvraj led Punjab's spirited fightback with an aggressive 150-ball 131 after the visitors had left with a 175-run deficit after bundling out for 148 in their first essay in reply to the hosts' first innings total of 323.
Opener Jiwanjot Singh also hit a patient 208-ball 103 and, together in the company of Yuvraj, added 192 runs for the third-wicket partnership at Captain Roop Singh Stadium. While Yuvraj struck 15 fours and four huge sixes in his 239-minute vigil at the crease, Jiwanjot found the fence 13 times.
The duo first helped the team wriggle out of a precarious situation and then reduced the deficit to stretch the game to the fourth and final day.
Later, Amitoze Singh struck a fine half-century lower down the order to take the team past 350-run mark and swell his team's overall lead.
However, the prospect of defeat still looms large over Punjab as they lead by 179 runs in their second innings with just two wickets remaining. The hosts will push for victory on Tuesday to get full points from the game. The Madhya Pradesh pace trio of Gaurav Yadav, Anand Rajan and Amarjeet Singh shared all the wickets among themselves to keep the hosts in the hunt.
Gaurav finished with an impressive figure of four for 86 while Anand Rajan picked up two for 61 that included the prized scalp of Yuvraj. Amarjeet too made his presence felt with figures of two for 80.
Brief scores: Madhya Pradesh 323 all out, Punjab 148 all out and 354 for 8 (Jiwanjot Singh 103, Yuvraj Singh 131; Gaurav Yadav 4 for 86)
(With inputs from agencies)