| Captain Amol Muzumdar being chaired by his Mumbai teammates on Monday
Mumbai: Though the match ended in four days, it was full of drama at Wankhede Stadium here on Monday and, eventually, Mumbai notched up a 132-run victory over Bengal to extend their Ranji Trophy winning run to 37.
The excitement which started with Sachin Tendulkarís swashbuckling century on Day I ended with Sourav Gangulyís classic 90 and Manoj Tewariís brilliant 94 on the fourth day. And after several twists in the tale, Mumbai had the last laugh.
There were very few takers for Bengal to script a sensational win, chasing 472. But Deep Dasgupta and Tewari, having resumed at 98 for two, looked determined to give it their best shot.
After Deepís departure, Sourav came into the picture and in tandem with Tewari, they raised the hopes for the improbable. However, Tewariís soft dismissal at his individual score of 94 changed the equation dramatically. It must be said that Bengal lost their plot with this dismissal.
Rohan Gavaskar, Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Sourashish Lahiriís exits completed the formality in no time.
Sourav, who treated the crowd with a dashing innings, fell short on a what couldíve been a well-deserved century. With Zaheer Khan saying the other day that he had a psychological edged over Sourav, the former India captain gave the bowler a strong reminder of his capabilities under pressure. Sourav-Gavaskar duo even smashed the left-armer for 18 in one over.
Sourav eventually fell to Zaheer, but it had more to do with his being visibly upset by the fall of wickets in regular intervals at the other end.
It is said that morning shows the day, but it was an exception for Deep & Co.
The Bengal captain and Tewari looked to be in no discomfort against the pace attack of Zaheer and Ajit Agarkar. It was clear that Bengalís initial plan was to occupy the crease as Deep took 35 minutes to add the first run to his overnight score of 43 and he also had to survive a dropped chance before that. He was caught by the keeper Vinayak Samant off Wilkin Mota after making 57.
Tewari, then, received the guidance from Sourav and started to play shots all around the park.
A consistent performer, Tewari became the highest run-getter for Bengal in a single Ranji season, eclipsing Arun Lalís 729 runs in a single Ranji season. Tewari finished the season on 796, only second to Robin Uthappa of Karnataka (854). In all, he faced 171 balls and had 13 hits to the fences and he cleared the ropes twice.
Tewari ó who was put down twice by Mumbai captain Amol Muzumdar in the slips ó didnít bother to curb his penchant for risky shots, despite repeated advice from Sourav from the other hand ó finally perished having been caught at point by Rohit Sharma while trying to cut Nair.
Sourav could only throw his bat in the air out of sheer frustration as the break in the fourth-wicket stand proved to be the turning point as far as Bengalís push for something sensational was concerned.
Gavaskar came in and was in his natural attacking mood from the word go. He played a cameo of 46, forcing Mumbai to take the new ball in the 85th over. The double-pronged attack of Zaheer and Agarkar then provided the final twist to the tale. Agarkar found Gavaskarís edge soon, sparking off collapse with Bengal tails failing to wag at all.
Laxmi and Sourashish all came and went in no time while occupying the crease to help Sourav was the need of the hour.
As hopes for a fightback were fast receding, the frustrated Sourav tried to slog it over long-on, but was caught by Ramesh Powar with 338 runs on the board. His innings was laced with 12 boundaries.
Sourav Sarkar, Ranadeb Bose and Ashok Dinda could only add a single run to the total to complete the formality. For the record, Bengal lost their last six wickets for five runs. Muzumdar & Co. were all smiling when the BCCI president Sharad Pawar awarded the trophy to them.
Sachin, on the other hand, handed over a memento to Wasim Jaffer for completing 10000 runs in first-class cricket.