Bengal virtually assured their Ranji Trophy final berth for the second time in three seasons after stretching their overall lead to a massive 547 runs against defending champions Madhya Pradesh here on Saturday.
Bengal, who had a big first innings lead of 268 runs, decided against declaring their second essay and ended the penultimate day on 279 for nine. Even if the semifinal match ends in a draw on the fifth day on Sunday, Bengal will make it to the final on the basis of first innings lead. First innings centurion Anustup Majumdar, who was overnight 9, got out for 80 when he was dismissed by left-arm spinner Kumar Kartikeya in a dubious LBW decision. Majumdar, who slammed 120 in the first innings, was once again the top-scorer for Bengal. After Majumdars departure, Bengal left-arm spinner Pradipta Pramanik, coming out at No. 8, showed the teams batting depth with an unbeaten 60 off 101 balls.
Pramanik has hit three fours and five sixes from 101 balls so far.
The duo of Pramanik and Ishan Porel (1 not out off 22 balls) kept the MP attack frustrated as Tiwary was in a mood to give his batters some much-needed practice ahead of the summit clash.
Resuming day four on 59 for 2, the first inning centurion duo of Majumdar and Sudip Gharami continued to pile on the runs. Off-spinner Saransh Jain finally broke the partnership, trapping Gharami with a ball that did not turn much. The duo added 85 crucial runs for the third wicket.
Majumdar then paired with skipper Manoj Tiwary (15) in another useful partnership that yielded 39 runs.
Jain (6/103) and Kartikeya (3/63) toiled hard for MP, bowling 88 overs between them. But Bengal hung around as their tail wagged.
The final is scheduled from February 16.
Brief Scores Bengal 438 and 279 for 9 in 119 overs (Anustup Majumdar 80, Pradipta Pramanik 60 batting, Sudip Gharami 41; Saransh Jain 6/103, Kumar Kartikeya 3/63). Madhya Pradesh 170. Bengal lead by 547 runs.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)