Calcutta: Odisha captain Biplab Samantray was spot-on with his analysis. On Wednesday, he had emphasised on creating pressure on the vulnerable Bengal batting line-up by setting an imposing target.
It went according to plan for Odisha in this Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 Trophy zonal leg tie, on Thursday, at the Maharaja Bir Bikram College ground in Agartala, though they couldn’t proceed beyond 129. But Bengal’s batting only turned the meagre total into a daunting one, as all that they managed was a paltry 95 for seven.
Securing a 34-run victory, Odisha moved on to the knockout round as toppers from the East Zone, which certainly comes as a surprise given how Bengal had performed in their previous three matches.
Taking no credit away from Odisha, Bengal’s sloppy batting was the main reason behind their defeat. No matter how difficult the pitch might have been for batting, a target of 130 is always considered achievable.
Odisha pacer Suryakant Pradhan, who did nothing extraordinary in the previous games of the competition, almost traumatised Bengal batsmen with his medium pace. The left-arm pacer (three for eight) struck in the very first over of Bengal’s reply, removing Sayan Sekhar Mondal, who looked at sea after being asked to open.
In no time, Pradhan picked up Anustup Majumder and debutant Alok Sharma before Sreevats Goswami fell to Basant Mohanty. To make matters worse, captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla, who has turned many a match in the past from such situations, was run out that left Bengal reeling at 60 for seven in the 16 th over.
Debabrata Das and Sanjib Sanyal attempted a fightback, but the target had already gone beyond reach by then. Shukla ruled out the complacency factor, but going into a game with as many as three debutants — that too, against a recognised unit — does raise questions about the team’s approach.