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Bengal battered in Ranji Trophy final

Bengal head coach must be feeling that his in-form quicks could have done a better job in the final of the Ranji Trophy

Sayak Banerjee Rajkot Published 10.03.20, 08:36 PM
Aarpit Vasavada after scoring a century in Rajkot on Tuesday

Aarpit Vasavada after scoring a century in Rajkot on Tuesday (PTI)

The way Arun Lal had come out in support of his players on a pitch offering little help to the pacers was commendable.

The Bengal head coach’s views about the wicket at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium were certainly justified, but deep down, he must be feeling that his in-form quicks could have done a better job in the final of the Ranji Trophy.


Saurashtra, though, shouldn’t be having too many reasons to complain as they are pretty decently placed – 384/8 – at stumps on Day II, courtesy another well compiled century by Aarpit Vasavada (106) and a typically patient 66 from Cheteshwar Pujara.

The India Test No.1 overcame a throat infection to come up with yet another marathon knock. Vasavada, who has hit a hundred in back-to-back matches, and Pujara stitched together a 142-run stand for the sixth wicket laying the platform for Saurashtra’s total. In the process, they also managed to keep Bengal on the field for two full days, which could prove to be taxing when the visitors come out to bat.

Pujara’s coming out to bat from the very first over of the day was indeed a big morale-booster for Saurashtra, especially after they lost three quick wickets in the final session on Day I.

Pujara looked steady from the start, but what seemed to be a bit surprising was Bengal opting for the new ball early in the fifth over of the day even after the old one was seen to be reversing and posing questions to the rival batsmen.

A set Vasavada and Pujara had no problems whatsoever in dealing with the new ball. They hardly got beaten en route their partnership, remaining unbroken in the first two sessions.

Mukesh Kumar, Ishan Porel and Akash Deep had spoken about being well aware of Pujara’s problems with the incoming delivery. They tried bowling that, but became too predictable.

Mukesh, who eventually trapped Pujara plumb in front with one that kept terribly low, could have brightened his chances of dismissing the India Test batsman earlier had he mixed it up with away going deliveries, yorkers and so on. In fact, the yorker was hardly tried by any of the three pacers.

Apart from trying to bowl excessive inswingers and in-cutters to Pujara, they sometimes bowled too straight and banged it short, and doing so proved futile on this sort of a surface.

When Shahbaz Ahmed had finally separated the pair by getting Vasavada stumped, Saurashtra had already reached a healthy total. And going by how this pitch has behaved so far with uneven bounce too being noticed, it’s likely to deteriorate. No matter where Saurashtra finish, Bengal will have a mountain to climb in their run chase.

What was also baffling from Bengal’s point of view was strike bowler Porel bowling only 26 overs, while the others regulars bowled many more.

Vasavada, churning out a neat and tidy knock that included 11 fours, underlined the influence Pujara had on his batting. “He always gives me tips on batting.

“Even in this game, when I seemed to be under a bit of pressure, he came up and asked me to calm down. That really helped,” he said.

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