Railways propelled by Ghosh half-century
Railways 210 for 4 (Ghosh 88*, Bhille 65) v Bengal
Bengal reject Arindam Ghosh came back to haunt his home state with an unbeaten 88 that helped Railways recover from a poor start and end the first day's play at 210 for 4 at the Jamia Millia Cricket Ground in Delhi.
Ghosh batted for nearly five hours, as his 220-ball knock ensured that the hosts finished on a decent note. Railways were however assisted by some poor work in the field from Bengal, whose players dropped as many as three catches. Ghosh, who hit 10 fours during his innings, was handed a reprieve towards the end of the day by the keeper Gitimoy Basu, who spilled one off Dinda's bowling when the batsman was on 87.
Ghosh, who had played six first-class matches in the last five years for Bengal before being left out of their probables list this season, was a picture of confidence as he helped the team recover from a precariously placed 31 for 3 -- thanks to a couple of important partnerships with Nitin Bhille and Mahesh Rawat, who scored 65 and 44 respectively.
Ghosh added 122 runs for the fourth wicket with Bhille, while Rawat's aggressive batting yielded 57 runs for the unbroken fifth-wicket stand. Rawat too had ridden his luck - he was dropped on 16 by Sandipan Das at point - but he immediately made the most of the second chance, striking Ashok Dinda for three fours off an over.
Initially, it looked to be a good toss to win for Bengal captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla as Dinda and Shib Paul made early breakthroughs, and kept the pressure on the batsmen by bowling in the right channels. But as the day progressed, it was evident that a wide patch of grass on the 22-yard strip was helping the batsmen, who were finding it easy to stay on the wicket.
That hadn't been the case in the morning when Dinda had removed the openers Shivakant Shukla and Karn Sharma in quick succession to leave Railways rattling at 7 for 2. Shivakant was removed with a delivery that moved away from him, and was caught by wicketkeeper Basu, while Karn was trapped lbw. Paul then got better of HD Rawle with a delivery that held its line, as the visitors looked to press home the advantage.
However, Ghosh and Bhille stepped in to play the rescue-act, despite struggling at first. The pair were initially very cautious, leaving several deliveries outside off stump. Several of Ghosh's strokes got stuck near the boundary line owing to thick grass, but the batsman kept the runs flowing with some good running between the wickets.
As Ghosh began to find his feet, Dinda's frustration began to boil over, sledging the batsman and peppering him with unnecessary short balls which were left alone. Ghosh, however, remained unperturbed and responded by pulling Dinda in front of square for four. Ghosh eventually reached his third first-class fifty off 116 balls, and Bhille notched his sixth first-class half-century soon after, off 170 balls.
The pair looked in good touch, but Paul made the breakthrough for the visitors with a beauty in the 72nd over. He pitched one on the middle stump committing Bhille to play forward, but the ball had moved enough to clip the bails.
Bengal would've hoped to wrest the advantage, but Rawat, coming in at No.6, immediately got off the mark with a couple of fours, as he and Ghosh batted out the last 18 overs of the day without losing a wicket.