Manoj Tiwary's second successive century pushed Bengal closer to claiming the five points they need to catch up with frontrunners Madhya Pradesh in Group B. The other star performer on the second day in Guwahati was Assam's left-arm spinner Anand Katti, who took a career-best seven wickets to limit Bengal's lead. The visitors' bowlers then combined to prise out five wickets before Assam had wiped out the first-innings deficit. Assam's only remaining batsman who has shown the ability to make runs this season is 19-year-old Sarupam Purkayastha.
Ashok Dinda provided the early breakthroughs by removing opener Mrigen Talukdar and Rashmi Parida in his opening spell, while left-arm spinner Iresh Saxena maintained a good line and length to peg back the hosts, trapping Jacob Martin leg before. Ranadeb Bose, Bengal's first innings hero with 5 for 10, managed just the one wicket second time round, removing D Sharma later in the day.
Earlier, Bengal had resumed on 118 for 5 and Tiwary scored the bulk of their runs - 61 of the 89 they made today - before he was the last man out. The only significant support he got was from overnight batsman Avik Chowdhury (28), with the rest failing to reach double-digits. Katti took four of the five Bengal wickets to fall, including that of Tiwary's.
Tiwary was pleased with his effort on what was a difficult pitch, though disappointed after being undone by Katti. "It was definitely a good innings," he told Kolkata-based, the Telegraph. "I have played in such a challenging condition. There was uneven bounce and slow turn. But, I am not happy to get out on such a slower delivery.
"I am very happy with my conversion rate. At one time, I used to be out for 40s and 50s, but now I feel confident and hope it stands me in good stead in future battles."
Katti believed a target of 200 or above in the second innings would be a tall order given the difficult pitch. "A target of 150 in the second innings could be defended. We can easily bowl out the opponents within 150 in the second innings."
Defeat in this match will eliminate Assam from the race for a spot in the Super League quarter-finals