Jaipur: Opener Abhimanyu Easwaran batted with a lot of determination as his unbeaten 123 helped Bengal reach a decent 288 for 3 against Uttar Pradesh in a Ranji Trophy group league encounter, here on Thursday.
It was a collective batting effort by a young Bengal top-order with Easwaran being ably supported by the talented left-hander Sudeep Chatterjee (73) and debutant southpaw Agniv Pan (53).
However the day belonged sinewy Easwaran, who dropped anchor at one end en route his second first class hundred. His unbeaten 123 came off 241 balls with 18 boundaries -- his second in Ranji Trophy after his 150 not out against Tamil Nadu back in 2015.
Manoj Tiwary called it right at the toss and Bengal openers Easwaran and Sayan Sekhar Mondal (30) provided a steady start with a stand of 64 in 20 overs.
Left-handed Mondal, who has shown improved performance after being promoted to opening during late last season was just getting set when UP's only successful bowler Ankit Rajpoot (3/72) got one to move a shade away after pitching with Ekalavya Dwivedi holding onto the edge.
The elegant Chatterjee then joined forced with Easwaran as the duo added 132 runs with minimum fuss in shade under 40 overs. The found the gaps with ease as neither veteran leggie Piyush Chawla (0/36 in 16 overs) nor young chinaman Kuldeep Yadav (0/63 in 23 overs) could provide with a breakthrough.
Both Chatterjee and Easwaran weren't deceived by Kuldeep's wrong 'un while they did not take much risk off Chawla's bowling occasionally punishing the loose balls.
Both drove well off the front-foot against the pacers and waited for the turn playing both the spinners off the backfoot. Chatterjee, who recently played for one of the sides in Duleep Trophy, hit some flowing cover drives in his 11 hits to the fence.
Just when Bengal was approaching 200-run mark, Chatterjee was bowled by Rajpoot after facing 140 balls for his 73.
However Chatterjee's dismissal ddin't break the tempo as young left-hander Agniv showed a lot of maturity as he gave Easwaran company adding 86 runs for the third wicket.
The former Bengal U-19 stumper hit six boundaries in his 81-ball knock as he reached his maiden half century on debut.
However just as Bengal were looking to play out the day, Agniv became Rajpoot's third victim on a personal score of 51.
Brilliant Yuvraj hits 164 no as Punjab post record Day 1 score
Yuvraj Singh shrugged off rustiness as he hammered Madhya Pradesh to submission with a superb knock of unbeaten 164 as Punjab posted a record 347 for 3 on the first day on a track helpful for the seamers in a Ranji Trophy encounter.
Yuvraj, who is out of favour as far as national team is concerned, showed that he is still a force to reckon with as his 25th first-class hundred was studded with 24 boundaries and he faced 241 balls in all. His century definitely is the highlight among all the matches of the Senior National Championship that are being held across the country.
Punjab's total, which was also propped by India discard Gurkeerat Mann's undefeated 101 is the highest on a first day at Lahli surpassing Haryana's 339/7 against Rajasthan during last edition of the tournament.
Yuvraj's innings came under pressure as he was at the crease with Punjab down at 15 for 2 losing Manan Vohra (2) and Uday Kaul (6).
He added 180 runs for third wicket with opener Jiwanjot Singh (61, 172 ball), who dropped anchor at one end with the stylish left-hander taking on an attack led by Iswar Pandey (2/95).
He added another 152 runs for the unnroken fourth wicket stand with Gurkeerat whose 102 ball innings had 16 fours and a six. In this partnership, Gurkeerat was the one who attacked as spinners Ankit Sharma and MS Raghav were in operation.
Yuvraj's innings was all the more praiseworthy as Tamil Nadu were shot out for less than 100 in the first match of the season while Mumbai lost 8 wickets while achieving a paltry winning target of 97.
While the pitch was a different one but the conditions in Lahli has always been challenging for the batsmen and Yuvraj showed why MSK Prasad and his colleagues cannot ignore his claim ffor yet another comeback atleast in the shorter formats.
For Madhya Pradesh, their three medium pacers Pandey (2/95 in 27 overs), Gaurav Yadav (1/78 in 24 overs) and Chandrakant Sakhure (0/79 in 19 overs) bowled 70 overs amongst themselves but Yuvraj was equal to the task as he played both cuts and pulls with aplomb.