Mithun Manhas capitalised on dropped chances to stitch an unbroken 133-run stand with Vijay Dahiya as Delhi overcame early jitters to reach a comfortable position on the second day of their four-day Ranji Trophy Elite Group A match against Bengal in Kolkata on Thursday.
Replying to Bengal's first innings total of 240, the visitors were in a spot of bother at 51/3 before Manhas (79 batting, 252 m, 175 b, 17x4) and Dahiya stemmed the rot to take their team to 184/3 when play was called off due to bad light at the Eden Gardens.
With seven wickets in hand, Delhi are now 56 runs behind the Bengal first innnings total and the morning session of play would be crucial tomorrow in determining the course of the game.
Resuming at the overnight score of 229/7, the Bengal innings folded up in half an hour, with Amit Bhandari picking up all the three remaining wickets to finish with figures of 5 for 55.
Bhandari claimed Ritam Kundu (20), S S Paul (0) and Ranadeb Bose (0) while Subhomoy Das, who came back to the middle today after having retired following a back problem on Wednesday, remained not out on 50.
Delhi began on a disastrous note losing their opener Aakash Chopra (3) and Shikhar Dhawan (1) cheaply with Bengal seamers S S Paul and Ranadeb Bose exploiting the pace-friendly conditions.
Gautam Gambhir (29) tried to salvage the situation in the company of Manhas, before getting out shortly before lunch.
Bengal 1st innings: (overnight 229 for 7)
A Das b K Lal 35
D Dasgupta c S Dhawan b K Lal 5
R Krishnan b A Bhandari 13
R Gavaskar lbw b A Jadeja 68
S Das not out 50
L R Shukla b A Bhandari 33
M Tewari run out 8
R Kundu c V Dahiya b A Bhandari 20
M Lodhgar lbw b K Lal 1
S S Paul lbw b A Bhandari 0
R Bose b A Bhandari 0
Extras: (lb-3, nb-4) 7
Total: (All out, 82.2 overs) 240
Fall of wickets: 1-12, 2-50, 3-76, 4-161, 5-208, 6-223, 7-228, 8-229, 9-238.
Bowling: A Bhandari 20.2-3-55-5 K Lal 19-4-55-3, N S Negi 16-0-61-0, A Jadeja 9-2-21-1, R Sanghvi 12-3-26-0, R Bhatia 4-0-14-0, M Manhas 2-0-5-0.
Delhi 1st innings:
A Chopra lbw b S S Paul 3
G Gambhir c L R Shukla b R Bose 29
S Dhawan lbw b R Bose 1
M Manhas batting 79
V Dahiya bating 68
Extras: (lb-3, nb-1) 4
Total: (For 3 wkts, 66 overs) 184
Fall of wickets: 1-10, 2-13, 3-51.
Bowling: S S Paul 19-4-60-1, R Bose 14-4-23-2, L R Shukla 11-1-37-0, M Lodhgar 11-3-23-0, R Kundu 10-2-33-0 R Gavaskar 1-0-5-0.