Patidar's century leaves Bengal on the ropes

Madhya Pradesh 348 (Shrivastava 65, Ojha 64, Veer Pratap 5-76) & 338 for 5 (Patidar 137, Bundela 72, Naman 52) lead Bengal 121 (Easwaran 48, Ishwar 4-45, Datey 3-30, Sakure 3-38) by 565 runs

Naman Ojha struck his second half-century in the match © PTI

Rajat Patidar‘s third century in only his fifth match was the centerpiece of Madhya Pradesh’s batathon that has all but shunted Bengal out of the quarterfinal. He shared stands of 141 and 114 with Naman Ojha and captain Devendra Bundela as MP stretched their lead well past 550, losing only five wickets in the day. The 22-year-old Patidar lasted for over six hours before top-edging a sweep to midwicket off Manoj Tiwary’s part-time offspin.

Like on the second day, Bengal tasted early success in the morning, with their seamers Ashok Dinda and Sayan Mondal having openers Jalaj Saxena and Aditya Shrivastava caught behind by Wriddhiman Saha inside the first 20 overs. They would then endure some caning from Naman and Patidar for more than 40 overs. Veer Pratap Singh produced a fine inducker to bowl Naman, but Bundela’s arrival resulted in further agony for Bengal.

It was a phase that saw a few half-chances created, with Patidar and Bundela’s uppish strokes repeatedly eluding fielders. The near-constant image at this point was a flustered Tiwary doing the teapot on more than one occasion. Patidar, however, was doing a fine job switching between attack and defence, but never preempted a delivery. To the spin bowling of Pragyan Ojha or Tiwary, he swept with conviction and power forcing Tiwary to bring back his overworked seamers.

There was similarly no indecisiveness when Patidar frequently charged out of the crease towards the end of the day. But even after having crossed his century – he brought up the landmark off 173 deliveries – he was scarcely averse to defending, even resisting the temptation to bully part-timer Abhimanyu Easwaran. His dismissal then, with a little more than half an hour to go for stumps, appeared an aberration.

Dinda flogged himself to the crease for 23 overs and Veer Pratap 18, but there was very little to show for by way of tangible or intangible rewards. One of Bengal’s very few takeaways was Pragyan reaching the milestone of 400 first-class wickets, when he dismissed Bundela. That neither Pragyan nor his team-mates registered the achievement – let alone celebrate it – told Bengal’s story.

Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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