Majumdar and Gharami tons help Bengal dominate Madhya Pradesh
The pair added 241 for the third wicket to keep Avesh Khan and co. at bay
Bengal 307 for 4 (Majumdar 120, Gharami 112, Agarwal 2-21) vs Madhya Pradesh
In what is a rematch of last season's Ranji Trophy semi-final, Bengal finished the first day in a strong position - against defending champions Madhya Pradesh - courtesy twin centuries from Sudip Kumar Gharami and Anustup Majumdar. The duo batted for 69 overs through the afternoon to add 241 runs for the third wicket before MP hit back with the wickets of the two set batters late in the day. At stumps, Bengal finished on 307 for 4, scoring at a run rate of 3.52 in the 87 overs that were possible on day one in Indore.
After Bengal chose to bat first in Indore, their openers Karan Lal and Abhimanyu Easwaran who started in a brisk manner. The pair added 51 runs in 12.3 overs before MP dismissed both batters in the space of four deliveries. Easwaran was the first to go for 27, bowled by Gaurav Yadav, and Lal was then dismissed for 23 by a similar full-pitched delivery from Anubhav Agarwal.
With Bengal slipping from 51 for no loss to 51 for 2, MP had the early advantage. However, the new batters Gharami and Majumdar turned the tide of the innings, frustrating the hosts through lunch, through tea and right up to the drinks break in the day's final session.
Majumdar, the 38-year-old veteran, struck 13 fours and a six in his 120 while Gharami, the 23-year-old right-hand batter, hit 12 fours and two sixes in his 112. Both of them survived a dropped chance apiece, but they were largely fluent in their strokeplay. Gharami often went inside out over the off side to the spinners, while Majumdar offered stability during the early stages of their partnership before dominating the proceedings in the afternoon session. That allowed Bengal to move to lunch at 111 for 2, and by tea they reached 213 for 2.
for Anustup Majumdar!— BCCI Domestic (@BCCIdomestic) February 8, 2023
A fine knock from the Bengal right-handed batter in the @mastercardindia #RanjiTrophy #SF1! #MPvBEN
Follow the match https://t.co/bd5cxNe6P4 pic.twitter.com/6XtmKaB9iQ
It looked like the pair would finish unbeaten at the end of the day, more so with MP's attack finding it difficult to breach their stand, but the new ball brought some respectability to MP's bowling effort. Avesh Khan struck in the 83rd over when he got a full ball to angle away from Majumdar and rattle the stumps. In the next over, Gharami was trapped lbw by Agarwal, and it was the second time in the day that Bengal had lost both set batters in succession.
MP tried to sneak in another wicket before stumps; however, it wasn't to be. No. 5 Manoj Tiwary (5*) and No. 6 Shahbaz Ahmed (6*) saw through the day, taking Bengal past 300 with six wickets still in hand.
Agarwal was the the pick of the bowlers for MP, picking up 2 for 21 in his 12 overs. Avesh bowled 20 overs for 79 runs, with only the lone wicket to show for. The final of the Ranji Trophy will be played later this month between the winner of this fixture and the winner of the other semi-final between Karnataka and Saurashtra, which is currently being played in Bengaluru.
Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx