Bengal v Baroda, Ranji Trophy semi-final, Kolkata, 4th day January 23, 2006

Bengal continue their dominance over hapless Baroda

Cricinfo staff

Baroda 241 and 101 for 2 trail Bengal 617 (Shukla 141, Lahiri 62) by 277 runs

It has been a good season for Jacob Martin, Baroda's captain, but it looks likely to end tomorrow © Getty Images

Bengal continued their dominance over Baroda by amassing 617 in their first innings and then dismissing both opposition openers to leave Baroda 101 for 2 at stumps on the fourth day at Kolkata. Having easily gained the first-innings bonus points, even a draw here will see Bengal progress into the finals against a resurgent Uttar Pradesh.

Much like yesterday, where the Bengal pair of Deep Dasgupta and Laxmi Ratan Shukla dominated, at times slaughtered, and ultimately frustrated the insipid Baroda attack into submission, today the lower order fought well against a negative line to further their dominant position. Despite the fall of Shukla, for a career-best 141, to the persevering Shekhar Joshi in the fifth over of the day, Bengal's tail wagged well enough to see a further 102 added to their total.

By lunch, Bengal had surged to 611 for 7, with Saurashish Lahiri getting to his fifty in an 88-run partnership for the eighth wicket with Shibsagar Singh(40*). That stand was broken two runs later as Irfan Safi Pathan, Baroda's opening bowler, got one to sneak through Lahiri's defense. Pathan followed that up with the wickets of Ranadeb Bose and Shib Paul in quick succession, and Bengal were finally bowled out for 619, a lead of 378. It was a much-needed breakthrough that came about four sessions too late for Baroda.

Baroda would have been disappointed not only in their bowling, but in the manner in which Pinal Shah and Rakesh Solanki, their openers, misread the pace of Ranadeb Bose and Shukla. On a pitch that turned benign with each session - making the bowlers toil for wickets - and assisted the Bengal batsmen for the better part of three days, both Baroda batsmen found themselves clean bowled by Bengal's medium pace duo.

Still 277 runs behind Bengal, much of Baroda's hopes rest on Jacob Martin and Connor Williams, the not-out batsmen, who have so far added 71 in 31.1 overs. A win will give Bengal undoubted confidence heading in to the finals, but following their extended batting display at the Eden Gardens, it seems they were content on even settling for a draw.