A responsible knock by Wriddhiman Saha and his century partnership with senior pro Laxmi Ratan Shukla helped Bengal end the first day in the Ranji Trophy match against Punjab [ Images ] on a respectable 280 for 7, in Mohali, on Friday.
Saha and Shukla added 124 runs for the sixth wicket after Bengal were tottering at 118 for five.
Team India's [ Images ] reserve glovesman was batting on 75, off 155 balls, with the help of nine fours and six, while Shukla contributed 62 useful runs, which included 10 boundaries.
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More importantly, the former Bengal skipper hung around for 105 balls, which also gave Saha a chance to plan his innings.
Saha was flawless during his undefeated knock, and the six he hit was straight over long-off, off left-arm spinner Bipul Sharma.
Incidentally, this was Saha's third consecutive half century this season, having scored 59 and 65 not out against Rajasthan [ Images ] in the opening game.
Punjab skipper Mandeep Singh opted to field on a track that had some assistance for the seamers.
Opener Jayojit Basu's (7) inexperience at the first-class level was exposed again during his 27-ball knock. He fished at an outgoing delivery from Manpreet Gony and saw the ball land in the gloves of wicketkeeper Uday Kaul.
Subhamoy Das (28, 5x4) and Writam Porel (33, 3x4) then took the score past 50, but second change medium fast bowler Amitoze Singh breached through Subhamoy's defence.
Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary (20, 32 balls, 3x4) was getting set when Gony induced an edge that flew to rival skipper Mandeep Singh at slips.
With Porel and Anustup Majumdar (22) also gone, Bengal were in dire straits when Saha and Shukla joined hands.
India discard Rahul Sharma gave away 50 runs in 11 overs and was punished on several occasions by Saha and Shukla, in particular. However, the bowler had the last laugh as he dismissed Shukla to bring Punjab back in the match.
A target in excess of 325 is something that Bengal will be looking at before they unleash their pace weapon Ashok Dinda [ Images ] on the confident Punjab batting line-up.
Bengal: 280-7 (W Saha 75 batting, LR Shukla 62, MS Gony 2-35, S Sharma 2-50, R Sharma 1-50).