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Listless Bengal succumb to UP

Calcutta: Bengal batsmen paid for their ineptitude and lack of application as Uttar Pradesh won by an innings and 152 runs with a day to spare in the Ranji Trophy tie at the Eden on Wednesday.

The defeat left Bengal staring at the prospect of relegation from the Super League. They now need an outright victory in their final match against Andhra Pradesh to stay afloat.

It was pathetic as the batsmen competed with the bowlers in their listless display. There was no effort to turn the tide after the first innings disaster.

Like in the first innings, the Bengal batsmen lasted just a little more than two sessions. This, despite there being no devil in the wicket and the bowling a little above average.

A 100-run opening stand between Anustup Majumder and Arindam Das did raise hopes of a draw but the rest of the batsmen showed no intention of staying at the wicket. Poor shot selection was the prime reason as left-arm spinner Praveen Gupta - who did not get to bowl in the first innings - returned with five for 11 from 9.3 overs and mediumpacer Sudeep Tyagi grabbed four.

“This was totally unexpected. It hurts.,” said Deep Dasgupta, who led in the past two seasons when Bengal finished runners-up. Sambaran Banerjee, Bengal’s last Ranji Trophy winning captain, shared Deep’s sentiments.

There was no pride on display as Bengal crashed to their second consecutive defeat. Apart from the openers, none showed the mentality to play a long innings or bat session by session. The team looks disjointed in the absence of some inspiring leadership from Shukla. There appears no quick fix solution in sight.

Manoj Tiwary managed only 24 in front of national selection committee chairman Dilip Vengsarkar. He batted for 71 minutes and hardly looked to instil confidence in his teammates. A gentle edge to Mohammed Kaif in the slip off an insipid Praveen delivery ended his vigil and with it, Bengal’s chances.

Shukla tried to make amends with a dodgy 41, but he too succumbed in the face of lack of support.

Bengal had started 345 runs in arrears after Uttar Pradesh batted for more than an hour in the first session to finish at 494. Praveen Kumar made 67 as Shib Shankar Paul finished with seven for 113.

No doubt the players will have to perform out of their skins against Andhra Pradesh. The selectors have already rung in a few changes and it remains to be seen how the players respond to the challenge.

Coach Bharat Arun felt the mindset of the players needs to change for a turnaround in the final game.

Deep has agreed to come forward with suggestion to the players. The onus now lies with the CAB.

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