Patidar ton leaves Bengal on the ropes
Madhya Pradesh 348 (Shrivastava 65, Naman 64, Veer Pratap 5-76) and 338 for 5 (Patidar 137, Bundela 72, Naman 52) lead Bengal 121 (Easwaran 48, Ishwar 4-45, Datey 3-30, Sakure 3-38) by 565 runs
Rajat Patidar's third century in only his fifth match was the centerpiece of Madhya Pradesh's batathon that has all but shunted Bengal out of the Ranji Trophy quarter-final. He shared stands of 141 and 114 with Naman Ojha and captain Devendra Bundela as MP stretched their lead to 565 losing only five wickets in the day. The 22-year-old Patidar lasted for over six hours before top-edging a sweep to midwicket off Manoj Tiwary's part-time offspin.
Seamers Ashok Dinda and Sayan Mondal had openers Jalaj Saxena and Aditya Shrivastava caught behind inside 20 overs. Then they would endure a caning from Naman and Patidar for more than 40 overs. Veer Pratap Singh produced a fine inducker to bowl Naman, but Bundela's arrival resulted in further agony for Bengal. And a few half-chances not going their way didn't help.
Patidar and Bundela's uppish strokes repeatedly eluded fielders and a flustered Tiwary kept the teapot on for what seemed like forever. Patidar, however, was doing a fine job switching between attack and defence, but never preempted a delivery. To the spin of Pragyan Ojha or Tiwary, he swept with conviction and power forcing Bengal to bring back their overworked seamers. He got to his century in 173 balls.
Patidar charged out of his crease repeatedly towards the end of the day, but he didn't get sucked into being overambitious, even when part-timer Abhimanyu Easwaran was brought on to make him drop his guard. His dismissal then, with a little more than half an hour to go for stumps, appeared an aberration.
Dinda flogged himself to the crease for 23 overs and Veer Pratap 18, but they came away with very little reward, tangible or intangible. One of Bengal's few takeaways was Pragyan reaching the milestone of 400 first-class wickets, when he dismissed Bundela. That neither Pragyan nor his team-mates registered the achievement - let alone celebrate it - told Bengal's story.
Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo