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Saxena grabs 9/68 as Bengal stare at second successive defeat

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Thumba (Kerala), Feb 11 (PTI) Domestic cricket stalwart Jalaj Saxena destroyed Bengal with career-best figures of 9/68 as the visitors found themselves on the brink of a second successive defeat in the Ranji Trophy Group D here on Sunday.

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Resuming on 172/8, Bengal managed to add just eight runs to their overnight total with the veteran all-rounder adding two more wickets to his name.

The 37-year-old now has 439 wickets and has 6600-plus runs from 138 matches in first-class cricket.

Despite a substantial lead, Kerala skipper Sanju Samson chose not to enforce follow-on and declared their second essay at 265/6 to set a massive 449-run target for the visitors.

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In reply, Bengal were 77/2 with Abhimanyu Easwaran batting on 33. Bengal had lost their last match against Mumbai at Eden Gardens.

Khare slams fighting 143, but Mumbai hold edge ============================== In Raipur, skipper Amandeep Khare led from the front with a stellar 143 as Chhattisgarh put up a strong fight, falling just one run short of Mumbai's first innings total of 351.

From 180/4 overnight, Khare, who was unbeaten on 35, showed utmost patience in his composed knock from 211 balls.

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Mumbai kept taking wickets at one end but Khare stood firm and was the last man to get out. He struck 14 fours and four sixes.

In reply, Mumbai were 97/1 at close on day three.

With a lead of 98 runs, Mumbai seemed to be well-placed with Bhupen Lalwani and Amogh Bhatkal at the crease.

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Shubham Singh managed the only breakthrough for Chhattisgarh in Mumbai's second innings when he dismissed Mumbai's first innings hero Prithvi Shaw, five runs short of a half-century.

The Indian batter's 159 off 185 balls had powered Mumbai to 351.

Assam eyeing maiden win of season ====================== Veteran off-spinner Swarupam Purkayastha was the star performer with the ball, securing four wickets for just 11 runs, as Assam bundled out Bihar for 207 to take a huge first innings lead of 198 runs in Guwahati.

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Assam were quick to enforce the follow-on and reduced Bihar to 168/3 at close of play on the penultimate day.

Opener Piyush Singh displayed resilience with an unbeaten 79 from 204, steering Bihar in their second essay.

The visitors face a challenging task ahead, trailing by 30 runs as Assam will be eyeing their first win of the season.

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Mukhtar Hussain, Rahul Singh and Mrinmoy Dutta picked up wicket apiece for Assam.

Brief Scores In Raipur: Mumbai 351 and 97/1; 28 overs (Prithvi Shaw 45, Bhupen Lalwani 40 batting). Chhattisgarh 350; 106.1 overs (Amandeep Khare 143, Shashank Chandrakar 56, Sanjeet Desai 41; Tushar Deshpande 5/121, Royston Dias 2/44). Mumbai lead by 98 runs.

In Guwahati: Assam: 405. Bihar 207; 71.5 overs (Paramjeet Singh 53, Bipin Saurabh 39; Swarupam Purkayastha 4/11, Mukhtar Hussain 3/22) and following on 168/3; 61 overs (Piyush Singh 79 not out, Bipin Saurabh 44; Mukhtar Hussain 1/15, Rahul Singh 1/13). Bihar trails by 30 runs.

In Thumba: Kerala: 363 and 265/6 declared; 64.2 overs (Rohan Kunnummal 51, Sachin Baby 51, Shreyas Gopal 50 not out; Shahbaz Ahmed 3/80). Bengal: 180; 51.1 overs (Abhimanyu Easwaran 72; Jalaj Saxena 9/68) and 77/2; 20.4 overs (Target: 449) (Abhimanyu Easwaran 33 batting, Sudip Gharami 31). Bengal need 372 runs.

In Vizianagaram: Andhra 261 and 271/5; 92 overs (Ricky Bhui 100 batting, Hanuma Vihari 48, Shaik Rasheed 42 batting; Saurabh Kumar 3/73). Uttar Pradesh 198. Andhra lead by 338 runs. PTI TAP AH AH

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