Ranji Trophy: Bengal sniff spot in semi-finals
Had Bengal held on to a couple of easy catches in the final session, they could have confirmed their place in the Ranji Trophy semi-finals on Thursday itself.
Nonetheless, looking at the current situation, Bengal shouldn’t be too disappointed as Jharkhand were wobbling at 162/7 in their second innings with a lead of only seven runs when the stumps were drawn on Day III of the quarter-final clash at Eden Gardens.
There were doubts as to whether Bengal could push their lead past 150, with overnight batsmen Shahbaz Ahmed and Abishek Porel being the last recognised pair at the crease. Resuming on 238/5, Porel departed in the day’s sixth over as he played a loose stroke off pacer Rahul Shukla.
Shahbaz then looked to stitch a partnership with seamer all-rounder Akash Ghatak, but the latter too perished cheaply. Shahbaz’s refusal to take what would have been an easy single ran Akash Deep out and soon after, Bengal slipped to 301/9 with the lead not even 130 then.
Shahbaz tried to make amends thereafter, unleashing some meaty blows that helped extend Bengal’s lead past 150. Before he holed out at the deep, the spinner all-rounder had top-scored with 81 in a knock that comprised nine boundaries and two maximums.
Although Bengal wished for a bigger lead, the advantage of 155 runs was good enough to mount pressure on Jharkhand. The Bengal’s quicks are better equipped to extract greater purchase from the pitch and the Jharkhand batters’ lack of application only made their job easier.
Akash got extra bounce and movement to account for opener Kumar Deobrat and No.3 Kumar Suraj, whose off-stump was sent cartwheeling. Ghatak, too, struck twice, cashing in on what also seemed to be a sheer lack of purpose from some of the Jharkhand batters.
Courtesy Aryaman Sharma (64) and Anukul Roy (40), and their 71-run stand for the fifth wicket, the game didn’t get over inside three days.
Anukul was lucky to get a reprieve when on 18 as captain Manoj Tiwary shelved a chance at slip off Shahbaz. Later, Akash dropped a chance at mid-on that let Supriyo Chakraborty off, again off Shahbaz’s bowling.
Brief scores: Jharkhand 173 & 162/7 (A. Sen 64; A. Deep 2/25, S. Ahmed 2/38). Bengal 328 (S. Ahmed 81). At stumps, Day III.