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Three for joy

22nd February 2020
It's a case of three for joy for Bengal, as the pace-troika took three wickets each to ensure Bengal take the first innings lead against Odhisa in the quarter finals of Ranji Trophy in Cuttack today.
Pacers Mukesh Kumar (3-51), Nilkantha Das (3-43) and Ishan Porel (3-72) turned the tide for Bengal by restricting Odisha to 250 runs and gave the visitors the much required first innings lead of 82 runs.
Bengal coach Arun Lal said: "The mindset of our players changed the game, the determination to win this one. We were bowling with a strategy, we were not giving too many runs and we knew just one wicket will change that scenario. We are a quality team.
"Our bowlers were fantastic. Nilkantha was on the spot, was very effective and gave us breakthrough. Mukesh bowled brilliantly also. I don't want to give Odisha any chance to win this game if I can. We will try and bat them out of the match and then see if I can enforce outright," he praised the bowlers.
Resuming the day on 151/4 Odisha could only amass 250 as Bengal bowlers made their lives miserable even on a placid Cuttack pitch.
Mukesh who asked many uncomfortable questions to the opponents' batters said: "There was nothing much for the bowlers on the wicket and that's why our target was to bowl wicket-to-wicket, leak less runs. There was a point of time when the wicket became completely dead."
"When you are bowling on a dead wicket, keeping a tight line but not getting any wicket- suddenly your brain goes blank. It was those times and Manoj Tiwary who holds huge experience came to me and shared a few tips with me. It really helped," the young pacer praised his senior.
"We were very focused, didn't give them loose balls. We tried and kept the ball a little short off good length, a little outside the off stump cause we knew they will cut," he also said.
Nilkantha gave the visitors first breakthrough of the day by removing Debabrata Pradhan while Mukesh bagged Biplab Samantaray (3) to start the collapse.
Mukesh and Ishan wiped out the tail as Bengal earned much needed first innings lead to have the upper hand in the crucial tie.
Lethal pacer Ishan said: "The wicket was dead. After first day nothing was happening on it. The plan was to maintain the line and bowl wicket-to-wicket. We all did that. We were maintaining tight line and at one point of time their run rate went below 2."
"We forced them to make mistakes. We bowled as an unit and bowled well. We are quietly confident of moving on to the semifinal," he added.
Bengal skipper Abhimanyu Easwaran and Koushik Ghosh stitched a 60-run opening partnership in the second innings.
Easwaran went back for 30 after giving his team a brisk start while Koushik also followed him just 21 balls before the stumps.
Bengal skipper Easwaran said: "We want to bat ad long as we can and after that put them to bat again and see what happens."
In form Manoj Tiwary (3) and Abhishek Raman (4) who smashed two tons this season are at the crease for Bengal as the visitors ended the third day on 79/2 and with 161-run lead.

Rio Dutta