From 50/4, Laxmi Ratan Shukla weighs in with ton

Laxmi Ratan ShuklaBengal's batting this season has been all about Laxmi Ratan Shukla (445 runs in six matches) (PTI)

The first four that he hit was streaky and went over the slips to the third man boundary. Laxmi Ratan Shukla's next shot, a six over cover, got his confidence back. The Bengal skipper proceeded to rattle Uttar Pradesh with his counter attack and by the time he was done, he had made 117 in 119 balls with 16 fours and three sixes.

At 50 for four, the skipper was Bengal's only hope. By the end of the Bengal innings, he had given his side a very important 72-run first-innings lead.

The pitch was lively and in RP Singh, Imtiaz Ahmed and Amit Mishra, Uttar Pradesh had one of the best seam attacks in domestic cricket. Shukla, however, was in the zone.

With Shukla adding quick runs, Uttar Pradesh captain Piyush Chawla sensed the danger and brought himself on. The first ball that Chawla bowled was a half-volley and Shukla's thunderous drive was too quick for the leg-spinner to get out of the way. He was struck on his left shoulder and had to leave the field in considerable pain. With his arm in the sling, he could take no further part in the day's play.

"Chawla had an X-ray and the report revealed that he had a bad bruise on his left shoulder. We will have another update tomorrow morning and will come to know if he can bat or bowl in this game," Uttar Pradesh coach Venkatesh Prasad said.

Form player

Apart from a couple of hundreds from opener Arindam Das, Bengal's batting this season has been all about Shukla (445 runs in six matches). He scored 95 not out in the last game against Railways but saw his team concede the first innings lead.

His 155 against Saurashtra, too, was a lone effort. On Sunday, however, he had very good support from Sudip Chatterjee who scored his maiden first-class half-century (66) and added 140 runs with his skipper for the fifth wicket.

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