After displaying his prowess with the ball, deposed India captain Sourav Ganguly proved his class with the bat by scoring an unbeaten 81 on day 2 of the Ranji Trophy match against Maharashtra on Thursday.
Replying to Maharashtra's first innings total of 350, Bengal ended the day on 202 for 5, at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Pune.
Ganguly, who arrived on the scene when Bengal were reeling at 4 for 63 after 22.3 overs, played the sheet anchor role and, in the company of yet another south paw in Rohan Gavaskar (20 not out), added 55 invaluable runs for the unfinished sixth wicket stand.
His unconquered knock, studded with nine hits to the ropes, came in 214 minutes and 148 balls.
Earlier, hosts Maharashtra, resuming at the overnight total of 307 for nine, went on to add 43 runs in 70 minutes this morning before being all out for 350 in 106 overs and 473 minutes.
Anupam Sanklecha, in the company of Rohit Jadhav, defied the rival pace and spin attack and gave their side a fighting total.
Sanklecha (54) completed his half century to rub salt into Bengal's wounds. He fell to off-spinner Lahiri, edging a catch to 'keeper Deep Dasgupta. Rohit Jadhav (13) remained not out.
Seamer Sanklecha started the proceedings in a dramatic way and sent back opener Subhumay Das (9), hitting timber with an away swinger. Seamer Burkul claimed the wicket of Devang Gandhi (5) and also sent back Sanjib Sanyal (10), sending his off-stump cartwheeling.
Thereafter, leggie Sairaj Bahutule claimed Arindam Das (30) uprooting his middle stumps. In a rush of blood, the batsman missed the line completely and paid the penalty.
Though there was no devil in the Nehru Stadium track, Bengal started rather disastrously and were reeling at 63 for 4.
Ganguly and stand-in skipper Deep Dasgupta 27 (2x4s, 34 balls, 118 mts), however, steadied the innings by adding 84 runs for the fifth wicket with the former batting on 51. Dasgupta got out in an unusual manner by shouldering arms to a straight delivery from debutant off-spinner Rohit Jadhav and was trapped plumb in front of the wickets.
But, Ganguly and Rohan remained undefeated to carry the fight tomorrow in a bid to gain the first innings lead.
Maharashtra (Ist innings): (overnight 307 for 9)
Mansingh Nigde b Ganguly 34
Yogesh Pawar b Paul 15
Hrishikesh Kanitkar lbw Ganguly 0
Abhijit Kale c Lahiri b Ganguly 33
Dhurv Mohan lbw Ganguly 18
Sairaj Bahutule run out 23
Satyajit Satbhai c Arindam Dass b Lahiri 47
Munaf Patel c Arindam Dass b Lahiri 78
Anupam Sanklecha c Dasgupta b Lahiri 54
Suyash Burkul c Dasgupta b Ganguly 5
Rohit Jadhav not out 13
Extras: (b-7, lb-4, nb-16, wb-3) 30
Total: (all out in 106 overs) 350
Fall of wickets: 1-20, 2-31, 3-81, 4-116, 5-122, 6-172, 7-224, 8-284, 9-305, 10-350.
Bowling: S S Paul 13-4-37-1, A B Dinda 25-1-114-0, S C Ganguly 25-3-75-5, S C Sanyal 14-3-31-0, S S Lahiri 26-8-71-3, R S Gavaskar 3-0-11-0.
Bengal (Ist innings):
Arindam Dass b Bahutule 30
Subhomay Dass b Sanklecha 09
Devang Gandhi lbw Burkul 5
Sanjib Sanyal b Burkul 10
Saurav Ganguly batting 81
Deepdas Gupta lbw Jadhav 27
Rohan Gavaskar batting 20
Extras: (b-6, nb-14) 20
Total: (for 5 wickets in 72 overs) 202
Fall of wickets: 1-30, 2-41, 3-59, 4-63,5-147.
Bowling: Munaf Patel 19-2-54-0, A Sanklecha 14-2-45-1, Suyash Burkul 10-3-21-2, Sairaj Bahutule 17-4-45-1, Rohit Jadhav 12-1-31-1.