Bengal wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha got a reprieve and then fought hard as he helped Bengal earn a point against favourites Mumbai despite seamer Abhishek Nayar's deadly spell in a Ranji Trophy Group A encounter at the Brabourne Stadium here on Tuesday.
It was a matter of survival for Bengal as they finished the final day's play at 198 for seven with Saha remaining not out on 38 off 152 balls hitting five fours in the process.
Saha was let off on 7 by Kshemal Waingankar off medium pacer Nayar, who was on the rampage with the ball as he finished with incredible figures of six for 13.
Chasing a target of 391 was out of question as Bengal batsmen defended doggedly throughout the day scoring only 151 runs in 90 overs.
Nayar was in the middle of a deadly spell of 12-6-12-4 when the other frontline bowlers failed to make an effect on the rival batsmen when Saha was given a 'life'. Nayar again raised the home team's hopes of an outright victory when he struck twice in 4 balls with the new ball.
But Saha, who faced 126 balls after his escape and was reprieved for the second time by Avishkar Salvi on 21, ensured a draw for his team in the company of tail-ender Veerpratap Singh (0 not out in 19 balls and 35 minutes).
Bengal had commenced very well this morning from 47 without loss with half centuries from openers Arindam Das (54) and Rohan Banerjee (59) to be 116 for no loss just before lunch before Nayar effected the breakthrough to dismiss Banerjee and trigger a post-lunch collapse.
Nayar, who hit half centuries in both the innings, finished with third five-wicket haul but did not get adequate support from the other bowlers.
Brief scores: Mumbai 297 and 294/5 decl; Bengal 201 and 198/7 (Arindam Das 54, Rohan Banerjee 59, Wriddhiman Saha 38 not out, Abhishek Nayar 6/13). Match Drawn. Mumbai 3; Bengal 1.
The post-lunch drama was not expected when Arindam Das, who had carried his bat through for an unbeaten 98 in the first innings, and Banerjee commenced the day with Bengal at 47 for no loss, with the visitors needing 344 more for a win.
The duo, in contrast to yesterday, crawled their way but the sight of Nayar encouraged them to go for the shots and the partnership was broken 15 minutes before lunch.
Banerjee edged Nayar when he played forward for wicketkeeper Aditya Tare to pouch the first of his three catches of the innings. The opener faced 166 balls in his 194-minute knock and hit 5 fours.
Going for lunch at 119 for 1, Bengal slumped to 136 for 4 in a short time as Nayar sent back Arindam, who was lured into a drive and got an edge to Tare on the 139th ball he faced. His 234-minute knock contained 6 fours.
Writam Porel (1) and skipper Manoj Tiwary (14) also fell to Nayar in quick succession, the latter shouldering arms and losing his stumps, when Bengal and Saha got their slice of luck when Waingankar grassed Saha when the latter attempted a flick.
It was a very costly miss as there were 40 more overs left for the game to end. Saha, missed again by Salvi off Ramesh Powar at long on - a difficult chance running backwards - learned his lesson and put down the shutters.
Saha was helped by Subhamoy Das (6 in 38 minutes) and Abishek Jhunjhunwala (9 in 96 minutes) to bat out time.
Although Nayar came back with the new ball to dismiss Jhunjhunwala and Laxmi Ratan Shukla (0) in four balls, Mumbai's winning chance had dimmed.
Saha kept his end blocked at one end and though Mumbai tried to prise out Veer Pratap at the other, they failed to succeed and had to remain content with the first innings points.
Mumbai take on group leaders Punjab at the Wankhede Stadium here in their next round match from December 8-11 while Bengal, who escaped their third successive defeat, travel to Rajkot to confront Saurashtra on the same dates.