The first day of this Ranji Trophy quarterfinal match here was all about fluctuating fortunes. Losing the toss and batting first on a seamer-friendly pitch, Bengal lost Arindam Das and Subhomoy Das in successive deliveries in the third over. Both were cleaned up by Railways medium-pacer Anureet Singh.
From three for two, Sudip Chatterjee and Abhimanyu Easwaran took the score to 166, thanks to a 163-run partnership for the third wicket. Railways fought back, taking six Bengal wickets for 67 runs. Then Wriddhiman Saha and Ashok Dinda stopped their march, adding 41 runs for the unfinished ninth-wicket partnership.
In the end, honours were even as the hosts reached 274, which is considered a decent number on this surface. The partnership between Chatterjee and Easwaran, however, was the real highlight of the day. It was an association of two youngsters with sharply contrasting backgrounds. Easwarans father owns a cricket academy in Dehradun. Chatterjee had to experience hardship to pursue his cricket career. On signing for a club in the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) League, Chatterjee applied for an electricity connection for his house in Basirhat, North 24-Parganas.
Cricket has given him a better life and the 22-year-old now owns a flat in Barasat and drives a second-hand car. Chatterjee was an example of technical excellence against the moving ball. Chatterjees cover drives had the trademark grace of a left-hander but more importantly, he didnt play a single bad shot during his 176-ball knock.
The only time he lost his concentration, he got out chasing an away-going delivery from Anureet. He was on 96. Maybe, he became a little nervous as he approached his maiden first-class hundred and it was a huge disappointment. The excitement of nearing my maiden first-class ton affected my focus momentarily and I paid the price. But its history now as our sole objective is to win the match, said Chatterjee. I was determined not play a loose shot. Leaving the ball was important on this pitch and they were bowling very well (in the first session). I had to bide my time, he added.
Easwaran was very shaky to start with, surviving a very confident leg-before shout in the first ball. He was struggling to put bat on ball in the first few overs. But to his credit, the 18-year-old didnt throw in the towel. Chatterjees steady approach at the other end helped him grow in confidence and