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Bengal make quarters

Calcutta: Bengal carved out a 12-run win over Assam to reach the quarter final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy where they will now meet Tamil Nadu, at the Eden, on March 11.

Put in to bat, Bengal scored a massive 321 for six and then bowled Assam out for 309 in 49.3 overs, at the JSCA Oval Ground, in Ranchi, on Friday, thereby qualifying for the knockout round with 12 points.

Comeback man Manoj Tiwary led the charge for Bengal with a run-a-ball 90 that had five boundaries and four huge sixes. He was ably supported by opener Sreevats Goswami, who carried on his good form, scoring 87 while stumper Wriddhiman Saha blasted a 56-ball 78 that helped Bengal get past the 300-run mark.

Manoj was severe, especially on pacers as he punished rival captain Abu Nechim Ahmed (one for 73) and Pritam Das (none of 62) on both sides of the wicket. Bengal were reduced to 32 for two in the eighth over, but Manoj and Sreevats launched a terrific counter-attack, adding 144 for the third wicket.

“I do feel that I’m really back now… Feels really good to contribute against the bowling attack of last year’s finalists and that too, in a do-or-die game. No matter what, we had to win today’s game,” an elated Manoj said later.

“I was always confident of scoring big. The first match was disappointing, but in the second (against Jharkhand), I played with good rhythm. But unfortunately, I was out trying to play big strokes.

“I just want to continue scoring runs from hereon,” he added.

For Assam, Shib Sankar Roy scored 101 off 105 balls with eight fours and a six. Former India under-19 opener Parvez Aziz smashed a quickfire 67 off 50 balls with eight fours and four sixes.

Veer Pratap Singh, though expensive, picked up three crucial wickets, while off-spinner Sourashish Lahiri got the prized scalps of Aziz and Dheeraj Jadhav.

“The ground was small and the pitch too was flat. Towards the latter stages, it was easier for batsmen. “So, I will credit the bowlers for being able to sustain the pressure on Assam batsmen and not fumble when they played the big shots against us,” captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla emphasised.