Kolkata: A century by Laxmi Shukla and a testing opening spell by the seamers gave Bengal the edge on the second day against Uttar Pradesh at Eden Gardens. Shukla’s brisk century helped Bengal pass UP’s first-innings score of 212 after they were reduced to a twitchy 50 for 4 in the morning. Having taken a 72-run lead, the Bengal seamers tightened their hold on the opposition by striking three times before stumps.
Having lost two wickets overnight, Bengal needed to settle in and build a partnership in the morning session on a green top. Things didn’t go their way initially, with two questionable decisions. Gitimoy Basu was given out caught behind when replays showed the bat hitting pad as the ball passed him; Writtick Chatterjee was batting outside his crease and was well forward when the ball struck his pads but the umpire sent him on his way. RP Singh was the beneficiary of the second decision as the pressure increased on the hosts.
Shukla batted positively and his stand of 140 with Sudip Chatterjee was the turning point. Shukla batted aggressively from the beginning, lofting the seamers over the infield. Of his 117, eighty-two came in boundaries, including three sixes. He reached his century with a stylish flick for four over midwicket. UP broke the stand when the seamer Amit Mishra bowled a peach to get rid of Sudip, for 66. The ball pitched outside leg of the left-handed batsman and moved away to shave the off stump, with Sudip pinned on the back foot.
Shukla’s 119-ball knock came to an end when he slashed at Mishra and got an underedge to the keeper. He fell after Bengal had taken the lead and a quickfire 32 off 37 balls by Sourasish Lahiri extended it. RP ended the innings with his tenth five-for in first-class cricket after bowling Shib Paul with an inswinger from round the wicket.
There was still plenty of purchase for the seamers on the green surface and Bengal’s seam duo of Ashok Dinda and Sourav Sarkar exploited it again. Digvijay Singh gave his wicket away with a poor shot, indecisively hanging his bat out and feathering an edge to the keeper. Dinda gave Mohammad Kaif a working over by getting him to play and miss outside the off stump. The bowler pitched one up and got it to move, but a tentative Kaif left a big gap and saw his off stump cartwheeling. Sarkar, who managed disconcerting inswing to the right-handers, beat the nightwatchman Mishra for movement and struck down the off stump soon after.
UP, without Suresh Raina, go into the third day needing partnerships to erase the deficit of 22 and then set a target. They are likely to be a bowler short, with their captain Piyush Chawla in a sling after getting struck on the shoulder while intercepting a drive from Shukla off his own bowling.
Uttar Pradesh 212 and 50 for 3 (Dinda 2-36) trail Bengal 284 (Shukla 117, Sudip 66, RP 5-77) by 22 runs