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Deadly Dinda floors UP

- Pacer’s 7-wicket haul helps Bengal earn 6 points

Calcutta: Ashok Dinda is like a punching bag, determined to take the hit, but more determined to hit you back… The harder you go at it, the harder it will come back at you with renewed vigour. More importantly, it will tire you out at some point, but will never be tired itself.

From 9’ clock in the morning when the umpires called play, till a little after 11.30 when the players retired to the dressing rooms for lunch, there were activities galore at the Eden on Monday.

One after another, the Uttar Pradesh batsmen were busy making guest appearances at the crease, Bengal captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla kept shuffling his field placements, the almost empty media box slowly became a bustling gathering of analysts and critics, and a group of about 20 men joined some of the lazy crows as spectators… But amidst all these variables, there was one constant — Ashok Bhimchandra Dinda.

The pacer bowled unchanged from the Pavilion End for 15.4 overs, and every delivery that he hurled at the rival batsmen was soaked in his sweat of hard work and had the power of hundred per cent dedication. Never for once was he tired. In Bengal whites, he looked every bit as colourful as someone in the India colours. And the result of such passion reflected in his innings figures — 24.4-6-82-7.

That Bengal toyed with UP on the third day of the Group B Ranji Trophy tie, their eight-wicket victory earning them six crucial points, was as much for the sensational Shukla as for the deadly Dinda.

Bengal had sniffed victory on Sunday itself when they had got rid of three UP batsmen in the 17 overs they got to bowl. But it was not cast in stone and cricket history has many such tales of botch-ups when from an advantageous position, teams have wandered into blind alleys.

UP began the day trailing by 22 runs and had seven wickets in hand. If they could have converted it to a lead of 150-plus runs, they too would have had a good chance.

The procession of dismissals started in the ninth over of the day, but it was not Dinda who hunted the first prey. It was his new-ball partner Sourav Sarkar. UP opener Mukul Dagar tried to dig out a full length Sourav delivery in vain as the ball went on to hit the stumps.

Thereafter it was Dinda, here, there and everywhere.

It’s a reformed Dinda nowadays, armed with a viscous away-going delivery and mixing things up intelligently. On Monday, he was constantly bowling in the channel forcing the batsmen to play at him than shouldering arms.

Prashant Gupta nicked one of his tempting wide deliveries which moved further away after pitching, Eklavya Dwivedi didn’t know what to do with a short-of-length ball and lobbed it back to the bowler, Parvinder Singh edged an out-swinger to the ’keeper, Piyush Chawla was caught plumb in front by one which held its line and Rudra Pratap Singh’s thick edge was caught at second slip… Dinda’s five wickets spoke a lot of his variations.

But at the end of the day, Bengal would rue missing out on the bonus point, which comes with a ten-wicket victory. The home team lost Geetimoy Basu and Abhimanyu Easwaran en route the 69-run target.

With 18 points from seven matches, it’s still very difficult for Bengal to qualify for the knockout stage. A victory against Tamil Nadu in their last group league match may help, but it doesn’t come with a guarantee. But one thing is guaranteed… Dinda will do everything he can to earn that win for Bengal.