Jharkhand’s day was bookended by two spells of synchronised clapping, aimed at boosting the morale of the fielders, but in between Bengal continued to pile misery on its opponent and end day two of the first quarterfinal of the Ranji Trophy at 577 for five at the Just Cricket Academy Ground here on Tuesday.
After Shahbaz Ahmed ramped Sushant Mishra (two for 122) for six over the third man following the dismissal of Abhishek Porel (68, 111b, 11×4), who was strangled down leg, the Jharkhand dugout geed up the fielders with a round of applause in the 175th over of the innings. Earlier, a similar spectacle had transpired an hour into the day’s play.
Between these bouts of cheers, Bengal ran the bowlers ragged. Porel and Manoj Tiwari (54 n.o., 146b, 3×4, 1×6), pairing for a 109-run stand for the fifth wicket, looked poised for a rousing end to the day with the third new ball yielding 46 runs in 11 overs. Porel, who reached his third fifty in his maiden Ranji Trophy season, cut and drove the pacers and spinners in equal measure. Overcoming his jitters with the short ball, in particular, Tiwari struck his first boundary after facing 95 balls before reaching his fifty with a crisp cover-drive for four.
Earlier, Sudip Kumar Gharami 186(380b, 21×4, 1×6) and Anustup Majumdar 117(194b, 15×4) built on the overnight score of 310 for one with their stonewalling, which yielded 99 runs in 35 overs in the first session. Majumdar reached the three-figure mark with a couple of fours after Ashish Kumar troubled him initially by moving the ball both ways. Rahul Shukla, however, was inaccurate from the start, straying on the pads to allow two fours in the second over of the day.
After a backbreaking spell, Shahbaz Nadeem finally tasted success, drawing Majumdar’s outside edge by beating him in the air and ending a 243-run stand. Abhishek Raman (61, 109b 8×4, 1×6), who retired hurt on 41 on day one, showed intent from the get-go by stepping out and depositing off-spinner Utkarsh Singh over long-on for six before he was consumed by his aggression, stranded outside his crease by a flighted delivery by Anukul Roy.
The day belonged to young Gharami, who shifted gears after an assuring first session. A bottom-handed whip through mid-wicket and a wild slash to the third man boundary betrayed a sense of hurry to complete a double ton. However, he was given out caught behind trying to flick down leg-side – 14 runs short, shock and disbelief writ large and a rousing ovation from his teammates.