Bengal 255 for 3 (Chatterjee 91*, Goswami 61*, Das 54) v Baroda
Sudip Chatterjee's composed, unbeaten 91 aided by vital contributions from opener Arindam Das and wicketkeeper Shreevats Goswami helped Bengal kick off their Ranji Trophy season on a decent note. The top order justified their captain Laxmi Shukla's decision to bat against Baroda by finishing the opening day on 255 for 3.
Munaf Patel did extract some bounce early in the morning but once the Bengal openers played him cautiously, the other two seamers, Gagandeep Singh and Abhijit Karambelkar, couldn't do much with the new ball. With the left- and right-hand combination of Rohan Banerjee and Das rotating strike at will, Baroda captain Aditya Waghmode was forced to introduce spin early.
Swapnil Singh, the left-arm spinner making a comeback to first-class cricket after three years, created a chance early in his spell but Pinal Shah missed a regulation stumping opportunity against Das. The batsman was on 25 in a total of 54.
Swapnil was finally rewarded for his accurate line as he forced Banerjee to offer a sharp chance at forward short-leg and Kedar Devdhar didn't falter. While Das continued to gain confidence, Chatterjee carried his good form from the Duleep Trophy by getting off the blocks in no time.
Soon after lunch, Chatterjee cut Yusuf Pathan for two boundaries in an over. Immediately after that, Das completed his 23rd fifty by pulling a short one from Gagandeep to the square-leg rope. But in the seamer's next over, Das' front-foot prod ended up in an edge to Pinal.
In came Manoj Tiwary and didn't waste any time in dancing down the wicket off Yusuf and hitting him for a one-bounce boundary to long-on. Waghmode brought Munaf back for his third stint and the bowler responded by bowling the spell of the day. Munaf executed his key strength of bowling a tight line and stifled both Tiwary and Chatterjee. It resulted in Tiwary missing out on a straight one and being adjudged lbw. With Munaf running in full steam, Chatterjee and Goswami played him out carefully. The fast bowler's third spell read 5-4-4-1.
Once Munaf was taken off, Goswami started expressing himself freely. His cuts against spinners and drives against seamers, especially Karambelkar, were a treat to watch. Goswami and Chatterjee appeared in little trouble all along their unbeaten 111-run partnership.
However, despite the Baroda bowlers starting to tire in the final session, the Bengal batsmen didn't try to score quicker. Baroda not only delayed the new ball till the end of the 88th over but also didn't bowl Munaf at all in the session.