Railways v Bengal, Ranji Trophy, Group B, Delhi, 2nd day December 7, 2013

Rawat fifty pushes Railways past 300

The Report by Amit Shetty in Delhi

Bengal 65 for 1 (Basu 27*) trail Railways 306 (Ghosh 88, Rawat 68, Bhille 65, Paul 3-47, Dinda 3-95)

Bengal batsmen employed an ultra-defensive approach as they huffed and puffed their way to 65 for 1 in 45 overs against Railways, on the second day at the Jamia Millia Sports Complex. Railways scored 306 in their first innings losing the last six wickets for 92 runs.

With absolutely no demons in the pitch, the excruciatingly slow pace at which Gitimoy Basu (27 off 134 balls) and Subhamoy Das (8 off 75 balls) batted defied any logic as they made a decent Railways pace attack look extraordinary. Bengal managed only 28 runs in 28 overs after tea which even forced their coach Ashok Malhotra to make a sarcastic comment.

"I told my boys in a funny manner to keep a check on the scoreboard as the number of overs might just overtake the number of runs scored," Malhotra said. "Also this team doesn't have its best batsman [Manoj Tiwary] and I have retired."

Basu, who had a torrid time behind the stumps, seemed to have got into a shell which saw him being responsible for Arindam Das' run-out. Arindam, who scored a century and half-century in his last match, was batting positively until he was run-out. Arindam played a backfoot cover drive with the ball racing towards the boundary. There couldn't have been a run less than three and the veteran opener rightly raced towards the non-striker's end only to find Basu not even looking at his partner. With both of them on one end, run-out was a mere formality.

Once Subhomoy Das joined Basu, both players went into a 'block everything' mode. Even half-volleys were met with a dead bat as they didn't even seem remotely interested in finding opportunities to score runs. Ranjitkumar Mali bowled a testing spell as Basu was beaten time and again.

Malhotra later pointed out that while Railways bowled on that off-stump channel, he would have ideally liked his batsmen to at least play a few cut shots. "If they are bowling outside the off stump, you should try and play a few cut shots. The bowler then would have altered the length and bowled drivable deliveries," he said.

In the morning, Bengal's most economical bowler Shib Paul removed Arindam Ghosh for 88 with one that came back sharply, having bowled an outswinger before that. Ghosh left it alone and to his horror found that his off stump went cartwheeling.

Mahesh Rawat (68) was joined by youngster Rongsen Jonathan and they added 44 runs for the sixth wicket. Rawat looked good for a three-figure mark as he used his feet to perfection driving Iresh Saxena through the covers. Saxena took his revenge off the very next delivery when he induced Rawat to go for a cut and Basu managed to catch the ball after it popped out of his gloves.

Murali Kartik played across the line to be bowled by his counterpart Laxmi Shukla but Anureet Singh (17) and Krishnakant Upadhyay (12) hit a few blows along with Jonathan (33) for company to help Railways get past 300. Saurashish Lahiri took a couple of quick wickets to bring an end to Railways' innings just after lunch.