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Was a dream run: Ashok

Calcutta: Bengal’s dream run in the Ranji Trophy came to a grinding halt in Indore on Monday, as they capitulated to Maharashtra by 10 wickets in the semi-final.

However, for coach Ashok Malhotra, this is a team that has brought people back to the ground, and have fans in Bengal again talking about domestic cricket.

“As far as I am concerned it was a dream run. No one gave us a chance when the tournament started. But we made it to the semi-finals after the 2006-07 season. This team made Bengal fans smile after a long time. People have again started talking about domestic cricket and coming to the ground.

“Yes, it was disappointing to lose the semi-final. But this team showed that Bengal can bounce back from tough situations. We normally don’t. But look at the matches against Tamil Nadu and the Railways. Both were close ones that we won,” he said.

Malhotra have been a part of the Bengal team that won the Ranji Trophy in 1989-90, but most of his wards in this squad have not really seen Bengal perform in the top flight of Ranji Trophy.

“This has been a season that I can be proud of. The positives are that even though we missed players of the calibre of Manoj Tiwary and Mohammed Shami, we made it to the semi-finals after years,” he said.

Captain Shukla stood by his players. “I’m not saying I’m happy with the result. But you must accept that each of the guys had put in a terrific effort to come this far. They do deserve some amount of credit. Please don’t be so harsh on them.

“It would have been an entirely different ballgame had we won the toss. In these kind of matches and particularly under these conditions, the toss becomes decisive.”