| Vatekar: Match winning performance
Calcutta: Andhra Pradesh took 125 minutes on the final morning to complete an eight-wicket win over Bengal in the Ranji Trophy elite group match at Eden Tuesday.
Even the staunchest supporter didn’t anticipate a dramatic fightback by Bengal, but some were expecting some sort of a fight — a few wickets, visitors struggling for every run and all that.
That didn’t happen and Andhra knocked off the remaining 88 runs in 27.1 overs, losing just two wickets. Hemal Vatekar was clearly the player of the match, scoring an unbeaten 67 and adding 108 runs for the ninth wicket with Mohammed Faiq in the first innings. Then, with Faiq unavailable with injury, Vatekar shared a major bulk of the bowling and took four wickets.
“We didn’t expect an outright win. First-innings lead was all we were looking for,” said Andhra skipper M.S.K. Prasad. “It will help us start the next season with the belief that we can beat better teams in away games.”
The former India wicketkeeper said Bengal were low on motivation which cost them the last game. “They didn’t look totally tuned-in, probably because they had nothing to gain from this game,” said Prasad.
Looking back on the disappointing season, Bengal skipper Rohan Gavaskar felt that a combination of factors let them down. “Largely, the batsmen failed to click. Just three centuries in seven matches is ample testimony.
“But when team needed the bowlers to deliver, they failed. Also, some vital decisions went against us. A major reason behind last season’s success was crucial runs from the lower-order, which we missed this time,” said Rohan.
He, however ruled out that lack of motivation was a factor. “Representing Bengal itself is a big motivation. Plus, there are quite a few in the team who aspire to play at a higher level. So, they are also keen to do well and that keeps the team going.”
Talking about his chances of getting back into reckoning for a berth in the India A team, Rohan said: “Yes, the big runs are not there. But Duleep Trophy is still to be played. If I am picked and do well, I’ll be back in the race.”
GROUP A FINAL STANDINGS Mumbai (13 points), Delhi (8), Hyderabad (5), Andhra (5), Rajasthan (4), Bengal (3), Railways (3), Himachal Pradesh (1). Mumbai and Delhi reach semis. Himachal relegated to plate division.