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Bengal enfore follow-on HPCA battles back

3rd November 2017
Pace bowlers hunt in pairs. The cricket myth came true today as devastating spells from Ashok Dinda and Mohammd Shami ripped through the Himachal Pradesh batting line-up to enforce a follow-on as the visitors folded up for 206 in their first innings at the Eden Gardens here today. At stumps the visitors were looking comparatively safe at 207 for two in their second essay.
Priyanshu Khanduri (67) and Nikhil Gangta (47) were at the crease defying a potent Bengal attack as they inched closer to safety. Skipper Tiwary brought himself on but to no success.
The day began with some hostile bowling from the Bengal duo of Ashok Dinda and Md Shami. While Shami moved the ball from good length, Dinda got awkward bounce off the track. It took Bengal 10 balls and 5 runs to get the first breakthrough after Himachal Pradesh finished day 2 at 163 for 5. Ashoke Dinda got the wicket of A K Bains caught at second slip for 5.
This opened the floodgates as Shami removed Rishi Dhawan who inside edged the cherry on to his middle stumps. Mukesh Kumar ran with speed and purpose as he trapped Amit Kumar before the wicket for 18. The last two wickets were polished off by Dinda as Himachal innings folded up 206 giving Bengal a lead of 213 runs. Dinda finished with another five wicket haul finishing at 5 for 61 while Md Shami’s figures read 3 for 94. Mukesh Kumar proved to be an able support taking ytwo wickets at crucial junctures.
In the second innings HPCA showed both motivation and application as they manoeuvred the hostile Bengal attack with steely jawed resolve. Prashant Chopra and Priyanshu Khanduri resurrected the second innings with a workman like first wicket partnership of 125 runs. The breakthrough came when Mukesh Kumar who was operating from the pavilion end the whole morning was brought back from the High Court End. Prashant Chopra played a gem of an innings scoring vital 81 runs to pour water on Bengal’s hopes of pushing the visitors further to the wall today.
Manoj Tiwary made bowling changes at regular intervals but the duo grafted in for a partnership that brought HPCA a long way back from the woods. But immediately after Chopra’s departure, Md Shami was brought back from the High Court end for his second spell and he immediately yielded result. He foxed Captain Sumit Verma with an off-cutter for a dolly behind the stumps.
At tea HPCA were precariously poised at 129 for two.

Arindam Basu