They must be holding their collective breath at the Chatterjee household in Barasat. Their boy Sudip, dropped from the Bengal Ranji Trophy team after a poor 2018-19 season - and out of India A reckoning too - is batting overnight on 47. He has stonewalled a fired-up Saurashtra attack for 145 deliveries.

At Wriddhiman Saha's posh apartment in Kolkata, his wife Romi will be collecting stories for their newborn son, about his Baba, who had to go away to play an important game a day after he came into the world.

Sudip Chatterjee and Saha are the front and centre of an important partnership away in Rajkot, one that could dictate the course of the Ranji Trophy final. They have carried on the good work done by Manoj Tiwary, who battled hard with an injured finger, keeping the bowlers at bay for close to three hours. The last nine overs of the day produced just one run off the bat on the face of a sensational burst of reverse-swing bowling from Jaydev Unadkat and Chetan Sakariya.

Elsewhere, they will have their fingers crossed in Sasaram, Bihar, where Akash Deep hails from. In Mukesh Kumar's village bordering Bihar and Bengal, they will be scrambling around a 21-inch TV set. Silent prayers will be mouthed in Dehradun, in Uttarakhand, where Abhimanyu Easwaran comes from. In Chennai, Abhimanyu's grandfather, will be glued to his TV. In Bangaon, a town bordering Bangladesh, the place Abhimanyu moved to as a teenager, they'll be praying there are no power cuts on Thursday.

At Friends' Colony in New Delhi, Abhishek Raman's father will take time off work to catch the action even though his son isn't in the XI. He was, after all, one of the early pace-setters this season with three hundreds in his first five matches.

At Naihati, in 24 Parganas, Sudip Gharami's father, a carpenter, will be watching eagerly. As a kid, Gharami used to play with a bat-like replica his father cut and shape with processed wood for him. That son was handed a debut in the grand finale, and he showed promise in an innings that was cut short on 26. At the Cricket Association of Bengal, Sourav Ganguly, someone knows a thing or two about debuting in a Ranji final, will be flicking over to his Twitter feed between various meetings to catch the score. The Instagram selfies can wait.

In Cape Town, the Jurgoops will have their fingers crossed for their son-in-law Shreevats Goswami, who has been an integral part of this Bengal journey, having played in each of the ten games, only to miss out on the final because he had to, yet again, make way for the returning Saha. Young Vivaan Tiwary, who has his name inscribed on dad Manoj's bat, will hear of his father's innings of concentration from his mum.

This match means so much to so many families, coaches and players. In different towns and cities, across the country, and beyond. Beneath the wins, the runs or wickets, these are stories of struggle, hardships, challenges. Winning or losing is for another day, but at least Bengal have lived to fight another day, against sustained aggression from Saurashtra, the flame is burning. They are behind by 291, there are seven wickets to play with. On an uneven surface, this is very tough, improbable if not impossible. But this side has reached here after overcoming what many felt was impossible.

And they have come here from around the country, brought together by quirks of fate and, in some cases, design. They have battled their way through the group stage, then the quarter-final, then the semi-final. They have stuck it out, shown tremendous grit and spirit.

At 67 for 6, on a green Eden Gardens track in the semi-final, they were written off against Karnataka. Anustup Majumdar, who moved to Railways and later returned to Bengal after years of frustration, rescued them with an astounding unbeaten 149 that set up a strong first-innings total.

Only a game earlier, Majumdar and Shahbaz Ahmed had forged another vital partnership on the opening morning of the quarter-final against Odisha after their top order was blown away. Majumdar made a career-best 157 there, Ahmed made 82. Together, they led a miraculous recovery from 46 for 5 before lunch to make 332. They scraped past on first-innings lead.

Like mutual fund advisories say in the fine print, past performances don't guarantee anything in the future. But at least it can be a marker for what to expect. Anything, perhaps, is still possible.

Saurashtra have their noses in front, if only just, but for Bengal, the game is still alive and will continue to be so until the tenth wicket falls. The 89-run stand between Chatterjee and Tiwary kept them in it, and Chatterjee and Saha have ensured that doesn't change. Thursday will tell us if that flame dies or burns brighter to light up a team searching for this moment for three decades now. The odds are stacked against them, but to borrow that old cliche - cricket is a funny game. They have to do it for two more days.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo