Kolkata, Jan 8 (PTI) Anmolpreet Singh cracked an unbeaten century as Punjab grabbed a firm grip over Bengal, taking a 170-run first innings lead, in their must-win Ranji Trophy Elite Group B clash here Tuesday.
Anmolpreet was unbeaten on 124 from 288 balls (13×4, 1×6) in his first century of the season as he guided Punjab to 357/7 on the second day, in reply to Bengal’s first innings total of 187.
Talented 19-year-old Shubman Gill (91) seized the initiative earlier in the day, hitting at brisk pace all around the ground with Anmolpreet playing second fiddle.
But the youngster missed his century by nine runs when he tried to step down to Bengal seamer Mukesh Kumar only to mishit to midoff in the first session.
Gill and Anmolpreet put together 89 runs in quick time to set the tone for Punjab before the latter anchored Punjab’s innings and stitched two more fifty-plus stands with Mandeep Singh (44) and Gitansh Khera (42).
The winners of the match are set to make the quarterfinals.
The Jadavpur University Saltlake Campus ground wicket, which was believed to be a rank turner, looked perfect for batting as Punjab batsmen made full use of the conditions to send Bengal bowlers on a leather hunt.
Seamer Mukesh (4/89) was the pick of Bengal bowlers, while left-arm spinner Pradipta Pramanik (3/100) took the key wicket of Yuvraj Singh in his first ball.
The player of the tournament in the 2011 World Cup, Yuvraj, looked out of sorts and failed to get into the line of the ball and departed for one in his four-ball stay at the crease.
But the morning session belonged to supremely talented young Punjab opener Gill who scored all around the ground in his elegant half-century.
Overnight 36, Gill took just 13 balls to complete his seventh first-class fifty and looked set for a big one before mistiming Mukesh.
“Obviously, I’m really disappointed to miss a hundred. If I batted, the team would have been on a better position. I was set for a big one. But it’s part of the game,” Gill told reporters.
“It’s not that I was beaten by the ball, it was a loose delivery and I stepped out only to take an inside edge.” Having come into the crease after the departure of nightwatchman Mayank Markande in the fag end of day one, the Punjab No 3, Anmolpreet, then shouldered the responsiblity taking the team past Bengal’s 187 after the lunch break.
“I think there was a bit of moisture early on when they batted and it helped our spinners. When we came to bat, the wicket eased out and there was not much help for the spinners. That’s one factor,” Gill said.
“We will try to extend the lead to 200-250. We seem to be in command at this moment.” Curiously, Bengal frontline pacer Ashok Dinda bowled just three overs in the first session and looked under bowled.
“Pacers were not getting much help in that session. There was nothing much off the wicket, maybe that’s the reason.
“But obviously it’s their home turf. Their team and captain knows better about the conditions, what can I say,” Gill said.
Punjab 357/7 in 110 overs (Anmolpreet Singh 124 batting, Shubman Gill 91; Mukesh Kumar 4/89, Pradipta Pramanik 3/100).
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.