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Bengal’s pathetic show

Sandipan Das

Calcutta: The New Year began on a most disappointing fashion for Bengal as another meek surrender marked the end of their Ranji Trophy campaign for the season.

Bengal were bowled out for 249, with Railways recording a fine 122-run victory in the Group A tie, here, at the Jadavpur University, Salt Lake campus ground.

However, for Railways, the win only added to their points tally as Saurashtra’s victory over Madhya Pradesh doused their hopes of reaching the next round.

But the occasion certainly turned out to be a perfect farewell for captain Sanjay Bangar, who announced his retirement from first-class cricket on Tuesday.

For his part, Bangar finished with figures of two for 43. The other Railways bowlers exploited a shaky and tentative Bengal batting line-up to increase their wickets tally.

Pacer Anupreet Kathuria (four for 46) was the best among the visitors’ bowlers, while leg-spinner Karan Sharma, too, chipped in with three wickets. Bengal were shot down inside an hour after tea on the final day.

A tad better performance with the bat might have enabled Bengal to pen a different script altogether. But the manner in which they capitulated, only made an average spinner like Sharma look like a top-class tweaker.

The batsmen would only rue the fact that they couldn’t take any advantage of the visitors being a bowler short, with left-arm spinner Murali Kartik not taking the field due to a hamstring pull.

Earlier, the approach with which overnight batsmen Arindam Das (39) and Sudip Chatterjee got going, suggested that Bengal were at least putting in some effort to finish on a positive note.

But all of a sudden, a sloppy show from Chatterjee brought about his downfall. The left-hander poked at an away-going delivery from Kathuria and was caught at the slip-cordon.

The dismissal looked to have affected Das’ concentration as he, too, fell soon after, failing to read the line of a Bangar delivery.

The tension was back in the Bengal camp before Sandipan Das (62) and captain Wriddhiman Saha tried their best to forge a recovery.

But Bangar came back to strike again shortly after lunch to send back his counterpart with one that brushed his gloves before being safely pouched by wicketkeeper Mahesh Rawat.

Abhishek Jhunjhunwala, too, didn’t last long, edging one from Sharma that spun sharply, to Rawat.

Bengal were heading for another collapse, but young Sandipan made one last attempt to steady the sinking ship, along with Debabrata Das’ (44) wild slogging that helped to put up some resistance.

For Sandipan, he certainly has had an impressive debut regardless of what transpired in the end. Blessed with sound technique, the 20-year-old unleashed an array of strokes, suggesting that he could be Bengal’s man for the future.

Maturity is one aspect that he needs to look into, as the lack of it resulted in his dismissal much against the run of play. Sandipan threw his wicket away, off the bowling of Sharma, going for an expansive on-drive that couldn’t clear mid-wicket.

With Sandipan’s departure, Bengal’s hopes of obtaining at least a point from this game were all but over. Debabrata too perished in the third over after tea, holing out to deep mid-wicket, off Kathuria, as it was just a matter of time then before Railways wrapped up the proceedings.