Day One, fifty-fifty

On a day of missed opportunities, Bengal missed fewer to have their noses slightly in front against Gujarat at the Eden Gardens on Satuday. A couple of Gujarat's batsmen failed to build on their half-centuries, while others didn't show enough application on a pitch which, if not exactly a featherbed, wasn't a BCCI-specified green-top either. When bad light forced early stumps, Gujarat were 230/6, with Manprit Juneja batting on 41 and Rakesh Dhruv on 38.

Bengal could have been in a better situation if not for these two as they dug the visitors out of a hole, having added 66 runs for the seventh wicket. Juneja and Dhruv again showed there were hardly any demons in the pitch, something that Parthiv Patel and Smit Patel had demonstrated earlier in the day.

Parthiv walked in at 21/2. Just eight overs were bowled and the ball was still fairly new. Patel, however, wrested the initiative with his positive approach and judicious stroke-play.

Patel drove off his front foot and also played the horizontal bat shots off his backfoot. His first scoring stroke was a boundary, a rollicking pull shot to the mid-wicket fence off Ashok Dinda. The Gujarat captain reached his half century with immaculate ease and was looking good for a lot more. But an error of judgment cut short his stay in the last over before lunch. He played left-arm spinner Iresh Saxena's arm-ball for the turn and edged. His innings ended at 61 when he was looking good for many more.

Opener Smit was happy to play second fiddle all the while and added 95 runs with his captain. He too perished at 67 after the quick wickets of Parthiv and Venugopal Rao. With Rahul Bhatt back in the hut for 3, Gujarat —who were 116/2— slumped to 164/6, before Juneja and Dhruv staged a revival. Bengal had a hand in that as captain Manoj Tiwary dropped Juneja off Dinda.

... contd.

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