Shukla still hopeful

Calcutta: Led by Wriddhiman Saha's 98, the recovery work from batsmen ensured Bengal a respectable and importantly, a fighting total of 326 especially a jittery start.

The good work, though, seems to be in vain for the moment as Punjab came up with a solid reply, ending Day II at 229 for onein Mohali, on Saturday. With nine wickets in hand, another good session for Punjab would not just guarantee them the crucial three points, but might also raise fears of a Bengal defeat as the pitch could offer a fair bit of assistance to spinners on the final day.

For Bengal, the only way they can come back in this game is making full use of the morning session on Day Three.

"It's imperative we strike early in the first session (on Sunday). That's the only way we can stay in the hunt," all-rounder Laxmi Ratan Shukla said from Mohali.

Shukla, Bengal's sole wicket-taker, hopes of an early-morning burst from pacers Ashok Dinda and Sourav Sarkar, which will be vital to peg Punjab back.

"One should remember that they are still 97 runs behind… So if Dinda and Sourav make early inroads, you never know. All said and done, it was a disappointing day. But that doesn't mean we bowled badly. Bowlers did their best, but got nothing from the wicket" he added.

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