Rajkot: Saurashtra maintained their grip over the Ranji Trophy final on day three despite a fighting stand between Bengal veteran Manoj Tiwary and Sudip Chatterjee on a deteriorating pitch here on Wednesday.
Chatterjee (47 not out off 145) and Tiwary (35 off 116) took a leaf out of Cheteshwar Pujara's book to share a gritty 89-run partnership off 226 balls after Bengal were in a spot of bother at 35 for two at lunch.
Batting is only going to get tougher on this surface with the ball keeping low right from day one, making it a steep challenge for Bengal to get past Saurashtra's first innings total of 425.
Bengal reached 134 for three in 65 overs at close of play, trailing Saurashtra by 291 runs with Chatterjee and Wriddhiman Saha (4 off 43) in the middle.
Saurashtra, who resumed the day at 384 for eight, went on to bat for one hour and 10 minutes in the morning session to add 41 valuable runs with the last wicket pair of Jaydev Unadkat and Dharemendrasinh Jadeja producing 38 runs.
Bengal coach Arun Lal asked his players to remain optimistic and stretch the fight.
"Fight on. It was an important toss. First couple of days the wicket still played better now it is misbehaving. There is rapid wear and tear but we will fight it till the end," Lal said. Saurashtra coach Karsan Ghavri said, "We are doing okay at the moment. But cricket is a funny game, things can change quickly. It is not a bad wicket. Our batsmen showed it. The odd ball is keeping low. That is it."
Lal’s error of judgement
Arun Lal's "very poor pitch" comment on the opening day drew a sharp rebuttal from Saurashtra Cricket Association on Wednesday when its curator Mahendra Rajdev said the Bengal coach erred in his judgement by jumping the gun.
"The pitch may not have had extra bounce which Bengal bowlers were looking for, but that does not make the wicket poor," said Rajdev in a SCA statement.
"It is a rather hasty and poor judgment by the Bengal Coach and it may not be beneficial for their own players when the coach makes a statement like this. "It is the same pitch for both the teams, which was prepared under the neutral curator (L Prashanth Rao) from the BCCI," he added.
DRS: Fully, or not at all
Former India spinner Dilip Doshi on Wednesday slammed BCCI's decision to use a restricted DRS for the Ranji Trophy final, saying the technology should be deployed "fully or not at all".
Ball tracking technology, which is a major component of the DRS, is not being used by the BCCI for the Ranji Trophy. The board introduced the limited version of DRS from the semifinals with an aim to reduce the number of umpiring howlers.
"If you use a technology like DRS, it should be used properly and fully. Because using a percentage of it doesn't make sense," Doshi told PTI
Now, backache for Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara, who overcame a bout of illness to play a vital knock for Saurashtra, is now down with a back issue and only will bat in the second innings if required.