| Ashok Dinda ignores the extended hand of Murali Kartik, on Monday. Picture by Prem Singh |
New Delhi: The spirit of the game was found wanting again in the final day of the Ranji Trophy match between Bengal and the Railways at the Jamia Millia University ground on Monday.
For the record, Bengal ended up with just one point, conceding the first-innings lead in the drawn match. Their overall tally now stands at 12.
But it was cricket that was the bigger loser as undesirable behaviour by both teams marked the day. The match virtually turned into a “dead rubber” within 5.5 overs in the morning when Bengal, chasing the Railways first innings score of 306, folded up for 270. They conceded a 36-run first innings lead and lost the chance to garner three points. In the second knock, the hosts made 193/2 with Nitin Bhille remaining not out on 100.
Bengal captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla, who was left stranded on 95 not out, sat out for most part of the Railways second innings because of a back trouble. Ashok Dinda led the side in his absence.
But then, cricket took a back seat on Day 4, which was marred by unpleasant incidents. Matters came to such a stage that Dinda refused to shake hands with the Railways skipper Murali Kartik after close of play, saying he should not be disturbed. On Sunday, the two teams were at loggerheads after Kartik “Mankaded” young Bengal batsman Sandipan Das just before lunch. And even on the fourth day morning, frayed tempers were evident among the players and the two umpires had to intervene thrice during the 5.5 overs that Bengal batted.
After Iresh Saxena (6) was out adding just one run to his overnight score, Dinda, the new batsman was greeted with some objectionable remarks by Railways fielders with Kartik taking the lead.
It continued for some time before umpires, P. Jayapal and Milind Pathak, called both the captains and had a talk with thBengem. The warning, however, had no effect. The worst came when Bengal lost the last wicket. Krishnakant Upadhyay, who bowled Shib Shankar Paul, made a gesture of kicking even as Paul was leaving the crease. Later, Kartik refused to call off the match at the start of the mandatory overs, and continued to bat till Bhille, who was on 77 then, reached the three-figure mark.
Visibly reluctant to continue, Bengal players were heard commenting loudly against the Railways captain. However, the Railways proved to be a better side and deserved the three points they got. Despite early setbacks, they managed to post a 300-plus total in the first innings and then their medium pacers bowled tirelessly to contain Bengal.
Between them, the three Railways medium pacers bowled 106 overs. The best was Anureet Singh, who bowled 45 overs to finish with a figure of five for 97.
On the other hand, while Bengal bowlers did their best, the batsmen were left wanting. They batted for 133.5 overs to score 270 only. Except Shukla and to some extent Sourashish Lahiri, none of the Bengal batsmen could take the attack to the rival camp.