ALUR (Karnataka): Rajat Patidar struck half a century unbeaten to put Madhya Pradesh in charge against Bengal in the Ranji Trophy semi-final here on Thursday.
Continuing his dream run, Patidar took center stage in MP’s second down with an elegant 63 not out after his team took a vital 78-point lead in the first inning.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore striker, who scored a century and two half centuries in the recently concluded IPL, found himself at home as he slammed 10 boundaries in his unbeaten 109-ball shot to push MP to 163 for two at the stumps on the third day.
In their quest for a first appearance in the Ranji Final since 1998-99, MP now have an overall lead of 231 races skippered Aditya Shrivastava lending good support to Patidar at the other end with a resolved 34 not on 90 balls.
come to bat after Shubham Sharma (22) retired injured after being hit in the arm by an Akash Deep delivery just before tea, the skipper MP didn’t look smooth but he hung on, giving perfect company to Patidar in their unbroken association of 73 races.
Patidar, on the other hand, mixed caution and aggression as the Bengal bowlers struggled to get breakthroughs and MP slowly tilted the momentum in their favor in the final session of the day.
There was hardly any pressure from the Bengal bowlers on a wide pitch as the pair cleverly collected ones and twos to relieve them.
Earlier, resuming the day on 197 for five, veteran Manoj Tiwary (102), who was 84 overnight, finished his 29th first-class cent, his second in a row.
He was well supported by the versatile Bengal and RCB player Shahbaz Ahmed (116), who landed his first first-class cent after regaining a personal score of 72 overnight.
The duo formed the backbone, in an otherwise sloppy batting display from Bengal as eight of their batters failed to get double-digit scores.
Skipper Abhimanyu Easwaran (22) was the only other batter to register double-digit runs as Bengal were grouped for 273 in 89.2 overs in response to MP 341.
In response, MP had a nervous start in his second set as Mukesh Kumar trapped Yash Dubey lbw with an angled length ball that slid down, but ref Vineet Kulkarni thought otherwise, giving the pacer his 100th first-class victim.
Sharma had a chance to escape as he was given a nine-hour reprieve after wicketkeeper Abishek Porel knocked down a keeper.
Bengal quickly grabbed a second wicket when Porel lost the centurion in the first leg Mantri Himanshu (21).
But afterwards it was Patidar’s show as he took on the Bengal bowlers with his flowing drives and flicks, adding 40 runs for the third wicket before Sharma retired injured.
Madhya Pradesh 341 and 163/2 in 63 overs (Rajat Patidar 63 at bat, Aditya Shrivastava 34 at bat).
Bengal 273 in 89.2 overs (Shahbaz Ahmed 116, Manoj Tiwary 102; Puneet Datey 3/48, Kumar Kartikeya 3/61, Saransh Jain 3/63).
You Can Read Also