Bengal closer to third Ranji semis

Kolkata, Feb 2: (PTI) Bengal are on course to their third successive Ranji Trophy semifinal appearance after Shahbaz Ahmed produced yet another sparkling all-round show to put them in the driver’s seat on the third day of their quarterfinal match against Jharkhand here on Thursday.
Batting at No. 6, left-hander Ahmed top-scored with a gritty 81 off 120 balls (9×4, 2×6) as Bengal posted 328 in their first innings to secure a healthy first innings lead of 155 runs.
At stumps on Day 3, Jharkhand were ahead by just seven runs, with their second innings in disarray at 162 for 7. A total of 11 wickets tumbled on day three.
The lower order Jharkhand batters are now left battling to delay the inevitable with two more days left in the game.
Ahmed, the left-arm spin bowling all-rounder, also made an impact with the ball, dismissing Anukul Roy (40) and Jharkhand skipper Virat Singh (29) in their second innings. Opener Aryaman Sen waged a lone battle for Jharkhand with a fighting half century (64 off 132 balls) but Ishan Porel brilliantly set him up with a bouncer and dismissed him at the fag-end of the day.
It was a total batting failure for Jharkhand as only three batters managed double digit figures with Aryaman stitching two fifty-plus stands with Anukul Roy and then with Singh.
The match could have been over on day three itself had it not been for Bengal’s sloppy catching as they dropped three sitters, including two by skipper Tiwary, all off the bowling of Ahmed who finished the day with bowling figures of 12-2-38-2.
Brief Scores: Jharkhand 173 and 162 for 7 in 48 overs (Aryaman Sen 64, Anukul Roy 40; Akash Deep 2/25, Akash Ghatak 2/19, Shahbaz Ahmed 2/38) vs Bengal 328 in 108 overs (Shahbaz Ahmed 81, Abhimanyu Easwaran 77, Sudip Gharami 68, Abishek Porel 33; Ashish Kumar 3/89, Rahul Shukla 2/65, Supriyo Chakraborty 2/87). (PTI)

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