Bengal opener Arindam Das scored a fighting 73 to give his team a slender one-run first innings lead against Hyderabad but the visiting team batsmen showed a lot of gumption to take an overall lead of 171 at Eden Gardens in Kolkata [ Images ] on Sunday.
With two days left, the match is expected to be over by Monday and Hyderabad are favourites to win considering the spineless nature of Bengal batting which has even failed to score 200 on a lot of occasions this season.
In the morning, it was veteran opener Arindam, who shifted gears as he scored 36 out of the 38 runs that were required to get the lead. Arindam lost Shami Ahmed when Bengal had just about managed to reach 80.
Arindam completed his half-century with a fine boundary and then took the team's score past 100 with yet another boundary as Hyderabad pacers struggled to break the last pair.
Arindam then hit a flurry of boundaries as Bengal managed to get past Hyderabad's first innings score of 115 before Anwar Ahmed who got five for 44 dismissed him. He got good support from A Ashish Reddy who also got five for 51.
Reddy returned to shine with the willow as, batting at No 8, he struck a 40-ball 42 (8x4), engaging himself with a gritty 57-run seventh wicket partnership with Syed Quadri to repair the early damage and take Hyderabad to a position from where they can put pressure on the home side.
In the Hyderabad second innings, Shami Ahmed got four for 68 while captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla (2/32) and Veer Pratap Singh (1/50) shared the spoils.
Struggling to get partnership going, Hyderabad folded up the Bengal way before Reddy joined himself with Quadri in a partnership that may just have titled the match in the visitors favour.
Hyderabad: 115 and 172/7; 57 overs (Akshat Reddy 49, Ashish Reddy 42; Shami Ahmed 4/68).
Bengal: 116 (Arindam Das 73; Anwar Ahmed 5/44, Ashish Reddy 5/51).