Mohali: Wriddhiman Saha scored his third half-century in as many innings to keep Bengal fighting at 280 for 7 in testing conditions at the PCA Stadium on Friday. Saha’s 124-run alliance with Laxmi Ratan Shukla (62) proved vital to the visitors’ chances on an engaging day’s play against Group A table-toppers Punjab, captained by 20-year-old Mandeep Singh in Harbhajan Singh’s absence.
Having been asked to bat, Bengal lost their openers inside 20 overs with just 51 on the board, but the big blow was losing captain Manoj Tiwary for 20 to Manpreet Gony. Gony had earlier removed opener Jayojit Basu in the seventh over. Sandeep Sharma’s dismissal of Anustup Majumdar left Bengal at 114 for 4 and it got worse four runs later when Writam Porel (32) fell to Siddarth Kaul.
But as they had against Rajasthan, it was Saha and Shukla who forged a fine alliance in challenging circumstances. The pair stubbornly denied Punjab a breakthrough for 36.2 overs, at which time Shukla was dismissed by legspinner Rahul Sharma. Arnab Nandi (22) fell soon before stumps but Saha was holding firm on 75 at the close.
Laxman and Vihari rescued Hyderabad with a century stand.
Brief scores Bengal 280 for 7 in 90 overs (Wriddhiman Saha 75*, Laxmi Ratan Shukla 62) v Punjab
In Surat, Gujarat rallied from an early wicket to post 278 for 5 at stumps against Saurashtra. The opener Smit Patel (61), skipper Parthiv Patel (56) and Manpreet Juneja (67*) all carried on from where they left off against Madhya Pradesh to contribute largely to that first-day total.
Sandeep Maniar removed Priyank Panchal for 0, but Smit and Neeraj Patel (24) combined to steady the innings. Then Parthiv came out and stroked nine fours in his 69-ball effort to make it three fifty-plus scores in a row, while Under-19 star Smit collected another half-century. Ravindra Jadeja removed the pair to allow Saurashtra some room to breathe, only for Bhargav Merai (44) and Juneja to bring Gurajat right back.
Brief scores: Gujarat 278 for 5 in 90 overs (Manpreet Juneja 67*, Parthiv Patel 56, Smit Patel 61) v Saurashtra
On a stop-start day in Hyderabad, the home team was reliant on captain VVS Laxman and Under-19 batsman Hanuma Vihari to get them out of trouble.
Laxman opted to bat but found himself in early after Ravi Teja and Ravi Teja were both back in the dressing room inside ten overs with 22 runs on the board. Laxman and Vihari ensured there were no further hiccups for Hyderabad with a dogged 137-run partnership in 44.1 overs which took the total to 159 for 2 in 54 possible overs. Three times play was held up due to bad light. Laxman was batting on 70 and Vihari on 76.
Brief scores: Hyderabad 159 for 2 in 54 overs (Hanuma Vihari 76*, VVS Laxman 70*) v Madhya Pradesh
For a report of Rajasthan v Mumbai in Jaipur, where Hrishikesh Kanitkar scored his 32nd first-class century, click here.