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Manoj & Wriddhiman shine

Manoj Tiwary after his half-century, at the Eden. A Telegraph picture

Calcutta: Wriddhiman Saha and Manoj Tiwary will not be available to play for Bengal if the team qualifies for the Super League of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20. But that didn’t stop the duo from helping Bengal storm to an eight-wicket win over Jharkhand, with 11 balls to spare, in a zonal match, at the Eden on Thursday.

Fluent half centuries from both the Bengal stars augured well for not only the team, but also meant that the duo got much-needed confidence boosters ahead of the IPL VII, with Saha in the Kings XI Punjab stable and Tiwary with the Delhi DareDevils.

Jharkhand captain Sourabh Tiwary won the toss, and like he did on Wednesday against Tripura at the same venue, elected to bat. But what he didn’t bargain for was a charged up Bengal, specially Tiwary, who has a point to prove. And that he did in style, with an unbeaten 52-ball 67 which was studded with six boundaries and a six.

Tiwary and Saha (54 off 37 balls, with seven boundaries and a six) helped Bengal to be on cruise mode against the Jharkhand attack, and when finally Saha was sent back, the target was well within reach.

Batting first, Jharkhand scored 152/9 in their 20 overs. That total looked pretty respectable and when the visitors had sent back opener Vivek Singh for a mere 33 on board, the going didn’t look too rosy for Bengal.

But with Tiwary joining Saha in the middle, the plot changed and Jharkhand soon started to look less and less confident. The 97-run second-wicket partnership between them was the cornerstone of the Bengal chase to which Jharkhand had no reply.

Earlier, rookie offie Amir Gani (2/15) managed to bring about some control.