Bengal 455 (Chatterjee 192, Goswami 87, Swapnil 5-99) and 8 for 1 lead Baroda 354 (Hooda 114, Devdhar 87) by 109 runs
Bengal bowlers, led by Ashok Dinda's burst with the second new ball, dismissed the remaining seven Baroda wickets to help Bengal earn a healthy 101-run first-innings lead. Despite the good work of Bengal bowlers, the penultimate day's play belonged to Baroda debutant Deepak Hooda, who scored a stylish century at the Reliance Stadium.
Had it not been for Hooda's 114, Baroda would have been in danger of conceding an outright defeat. But the teenager, who was one of India's stars in this year's Under-19 World Cup, displayed that he was ready to graduate to the next level with a classy hundred.
When Hooda took guard, Baroda had lost Kedar Devdhar, who edged left-arm spinner Iresh Saxena after dominating the pace bowlers early in the morning and missed his century by 13 runs. Baroda were still 292 runs adrift Bengal's first-innings total of 455.
Yusuf Pathan, who took 24 balls to open his account, was struggling at the other end. But Hooda started timing the ball right from the word go. Off the eighth ball he faced, he drove Bengal captain Laxmi Shukla through the on side for his first boundary. Since then till he finally edged Dinda into the slip cordon, he continued to time the ball like a senior batsman.
Never during his knock did Hooda appear to have been bogged down - either by the pressure of playing his maiden first-class match or while facing one of the most experienced bowling line-ups in domestic cricket. With his feet moving swiftly, he danced down the wicket to loft offspinner Saurasish Lahiri over long-off for a six.
Soon after, Yusuf attempted a slog sweep off Lahiri to break the shackles, but missed and saw the ball crash onto the stumps. Baroda were still 252 behind and the visitors had enough time to force a win.
Hooda then found an able ally in Abhijit Karambelkar and the duo's 95-run partnership took Baroda closer to opening their points tally by taking the match towards a draw. Hooda continued to rotate strike and made the most of every scoring opportunity.
Once he had crossed fifty, he started playing more freely. The highlight of his innings came in the 90th over when he went after Saxena. Hooda danced down the wicket to send the first ball over the long-off fence. He lofted the next one over long-on and the ball landed in the parking lot behind the dressing rooms. The next one was a flat hit straight over the bowler and it landed just ahead of the boundary rope. It forced Saxena to adopt a negative line and he bowled the next two balls way outside the leg stump. After being cautioned by the umpire, the last ball was delivered on the leg stump and Hooda reverse-swept him through point to inch closer to his hundred.
In the next over though, Karambelkar was adjudged lbw off Lahiri. At the start of the last over before tea, Hooda was on 97. He took a single off Saxena's second ball and Pinal Shah gave the strike back to him off the next ball. Hooda then paddle-swept the next ball behind square for a run that fetched him a memorable moment.
Sensing the ominous signs, Shukla took the new ball immediately after tea and Dinda struck thrice. But the ball before Hooda edged Dinda to Sudip Chatterjee at second slip, he played a sparkling straight drive, showing his prowess against the new ball.
After Baroda were all out for 354, Bengal got to face 10 overs in which they scored eight runs for the loss of Arindam Dass' wicket for 2, leading by 109 runs.