At the end of the third day of the Railways - Bengal Ranji semi-final, the home side looked almost certain to take on Baroda in the Ranji final, having Bengal on the rocks at 166/5 at the close of play.

Yere Goud, unbeaten on 93, duly went on to complete his century. Batting well with the tail, he extended Railways' first-innings total to 557 before falling as the 10th wicket. Goud scored 127 off 374 balls with 11 fours and one six.

The other overnight batsman, Jai P Yadav, also scored valuable runs, making 49 off 66 deliveries. For Bengal, Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly took three wickets for 112 runs, while Sourashish Lahiri took 3-118.

Facing such a massive total to overhaul, Bengal predictably wilted. Two wickets fell for 21 and three for 85. Debang Gandhi offered some top-order resistance, making 43 off just 52 balls before falling to Sanjay Bangar. Bangar also scalped Bengal captain Rohan Gavaskar for 26.

At 105/5, Bengal were tottering. But Subhomoy Das and Sanjib Sanyal, heroes of Bengal's quarter-final match, put on 61 runs for the sixth wicket. At stumps, Bengal were 166/5, with Das on 13 off 80 balls and Sanyal on 44 off 61 balls.

The partnership may have saved Bengal acute blushes, but the chances for their qualification to the finals of this season's Ranji Trophy look almost non-existent, and Railways can play out the remaining two days of this semi-final encounter in the relatively safe knowledge that they will take on Baroda in the summit clash of the Ranji Trophy.