Madhya Pradesh had the edge over Bengal as they restricted the visitors to 200 for six after being bundled out 342 in their Group A Ranji Trophy match in Indore on Sunday.
At stumps on day two, Bengal trailed the hosts by another 142 runs, with Abhishek Jhunjhunwala batting resolutely on 41 at the Holkar Cricket Stadium.
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After pacer Shami Ahmed, who returned impressive figures of seven for 79, helped Bengal take the remaining five Madhya Pradesh wickets for addition of just 20 runs, the visitors seemed a relieved lot.
There was, however, disappointment in store for Bengal as they were off to a disastrous start, losing three wickets with just 19 on the board.
Two more wickets fell before they got to 100, but skipper Wriddhiman Saha stood fort, helping his team to a cross the follow-on.
Saha's knock of 87 contained 11 fours and a six and it came off 186 balls.
Writam Porel (30) was the other Bengal batsman to have reached the double digits.
For Madhya Pradesh, Ishwar Pandey took 3/55 while Anand Rajan had 2/62. There was also a wicket for Devendra Bundela, who had scored 61 yesterday in his 100th match.
Madhya Pradesh: 342 all out in 103 overs (Naman Ojha 99, Devendra Bundela 61, Udit Birla 50 Jalaj Saxena 49; Shami Ahmed 7/79)
Bengal: 200 for six in 74.5 overs (Wriddhiman Saha 87, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala 41 batting; Ishwar Pandey 3/55, Anand Rajan 2/62).