Tewari (151 n.o.) sets up Wankhede clash - Sourav Ganguly may play The Ranji Trophy final which begins on Friday

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By Staff Reporter in Calcutta
  • Published 28.01.07

Calcutta: Manoj Tewari smashed a sound unbeaten 151 while Avishek Jhunjhunwala contributed a well-timed 54 to help Bengal beat Karnataka by six wickets. The hosts thus entered the final of the Ranji Trophy for the 13th time, twice in succession.

Deep Dasgupta & Co. lost to Uttar Pradesh last year. This time they will face Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium. Statistics would be against Bengal, as they have been Ranji champions twice in 1938-39 and 1989-90, whereas Mumbai have won the title a whopping 36 times. Bengal have made the title round 13 times against Mumbai’s 41.

The most worrying factor for Bengal is their dismal record in the final against Mumbai. Having played Mumbai five times in the final, Bengal are yet to return victorious.

This time, though, things could be different if Sourav Ganguly is in the team. According to a CAB official, the former India captain is most likely to feature in the final which ends two days before the first ODI versus Sri Lanka — a day-nighter at the Eden.

Day V at the Eden will be remembered for the 21-year-old Tewari, who held centrestage in all the three sessions. After Karnataka bounced back in the second innings with 445 runs on Republic Day, Bengal never lost the plot. They applied themselves well while chasing the 307-run mark.

In Friday’s third session, Bengal lost openers — Arindam Das and Subhamoy Das — on 27 and 30, respectively. But Tewari and Jhunjhunwala took the game away from Karnataka. Tewari’s unbeaten 151 was laced with 24 hits to the fence and two over-boundaries, while Jhunjhunwala’s 54 included seven fours.

Resuming at 71 for two, Bengal had a specific plan. Tewari, the more flamboyant one, never tried to curb his strokes while his partner did the job of staying in the middle and frustrating the opposition bowlers. Jhunjhunwala faced 189 deliveries in his 274-minute stay. They together stitched a 164-run stand for the third wicket.

Both batsmen, who saw Bengal out of danger in the first session, seemed determined to see Bengal through. Almost after the fate was decided, Jhunjhunwala was adjudged leg-before off left-armer Sunil Joshi.

In came Rohan Gavaskar, who started despatching the ball at all corners of the park. He was caught behind the stumps, though, off S. Dhananjaya.

Captain Deep Dasgupta arrived at the wicket when victory was a mere formality, only to push at Tewari, who was well-set and looked to destroy anything that came in the way. Deep, though, hit the winning runs — a boundary through cover off Joshi.

Tewari, who has already amassed 660 runs in the Ranji Trophy, is second only to Robin Uthappa (854) of Karnataka in the tally.

Bengal, now, will face the might of Mumbai who may have Sachin Tendulkar, Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan in their folds.