Uttar Pradesh in command
A day after taking Bengal by the scruff of the neck, Uttar Pradesh tightened the noose around the hosts on Day II of the crucial Ranji Trophy Super League Group B match.
Uttar Pradesh skipper Mohammad Kaif (91) and star batsman Suresh Raina (63) missed out on centuries that were otherwise there for the taking on an easy-to-bat Eden Gardens wicket. But the visiting team didn't miss out capitalising on yesterday's stellar showing, hammering out an ominous 288-run first-innings lead at close of play on the second day, with three wickets in hand. Compare UP's domineering 437 for 7 in reply to Bengal's pathetically inadequate 149 all out, and it seems that it's just a matter of time now for the visitors to close the door on Laxmi Ratan Shukla & Co in their own den.
In stark contrast to the 12 wickets that tumbled on the opening day, the second day saw the UP batsmen resolutely running the show, securing 309 runs losing just 5 wickets. At stumps, Praveen Kumar was unbeaten on a typically maverick 50 that came off 71 balls, and keeping him company is stumper Amir Khan (30 off 75 balls).
Already pushing Bengal to the brink with an innings result looming large, the UP think-tank doesn't want its opponents yet to gauge their next move. Which is exactly why UP expectedly stayed away from declaring their first innings yet, but dropped enough indications that their new ball bowlers would be called upon to strangle the Bengal batting for a second time in the match.
As ace leggie in the UP team, Piyush Chawla, said after today's play, there's enough time left for not just a result but even an innings win. "We are in the driver's seat clearly, full credit for that to the batsmen, particularly Kaif. At this stage, I think we should be able to wrap up the match in another one and a half days. That should be time enough, given the way we are placed," said Chawla, who carved out a patient 53 and put on 86 runs for the 6th wicket with skipper Kaif.
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