Calcutta: If the opening Ranji Trophy match was about a good start and gaining momentum for Bengal, then they performed reasonably well against defending champions Rajasthan.
But the promise of an exciting day faded once Bengal decided to take a safety-first approach. They batted for close to two hours in the first session before setting Rajasthan a target of 330 in 67 overs. That was, however, justified given that pocketing three points in such a tough group was more important than losing all.
The weather didn't play truant and the moisture on the wicket had dried up, making batting comparatively easier.
The visitors never went for the chase and finished at 181 for three when play was called off before the start of the 15 mandatory overs. Rajasthan garnered one point from the drawn encounter.
"We obviously wanted to set a safe target" said captain Manoj Tiwary.
A 55-run partnership between Man of the Match Wriddhiman Saha and Laxmi Ratan Shukla helped Bengal gain a firm foothold. Shukla never let the bowlers dictate terms in the morning. His 32 off 48 balls showed there was no demon in the wicket and it needed the right application and temperament to perform. An over-ambitious pull, though, brought about his end.
Saha, who scored a superb 59 in the first essay, anchored the innings once again. He batted with authority. There were no flashy strokes but he picked the gaps superbly. His unbeaten 65 spanned 161 minutes and included nine boundaries .
None of the late-order batsmen after Shukla offered much support, though Sourav Sarkar was a victim of a wrong leg before decision. Only Ashok Dinda offered some help, in the last over of the innings before the declaration, which yielded 23 runs.
Rajasthan's reply wasn't encouraging with Dinda uprooting Akash Lamba's off stump in the third over. He could have departed in the first over itself had Tiwary and Subhamoy Das in first and second slips, respectively, not bungled.
Dinda generated a lot of pace and movement in the second innings but was unlucky at times. There were a few close calls and the batsmen, at times, found it tough to counter the threat.
Shukla removed Vineet Saxena and Ashok Maneria in consecutive overs raising visions of a victory.
But that was not to be as Hrishikesh Kanitkar (80 not out) and Rashmi Ranjan Parida (52 not out) used all their experience to squash the challenge.