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regular-article-logo Thursday, 20 June 2024

Ranji Trophy final: Bengal toil on the backfoot

Bowlers, including Mukesh and Akash Deep, lacked the punch required

Sayak Banerjee Calcutta Published 18.02.23, 05:04 AM
Saurashtra’s Arpit Vasavada smashes one on the off side on the second day of the Ranji Trophy final against Bengal at Eden Gardens on Friday.

Saurashtra’s Arpit Vasavada smashes one on the off side on the second day of the Ranji Trophy final against Bengal at Eden Gardens on Friday. Santosh Ghosh

The ongoing Ranji Trophy final at Eden Gardens is heading towards being a one-sided affair as the Bengal camp had predicted, but in the opposite direction, in favour of Saurashtra.

At stumps on Day II, the 2019-20 champions, in reply to Bengal’s paltry total of 174, are strongly placed at 317/5 with their lead already a healthy 143. The consistent Arpit Vasavada (81 batting) and Chirag Jani (57 batting) have so far forged a 113-run stand for the sixth wicket that is gradually taking the game away from Bengal, who were once again sloppy on the field.

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The situation may have been salvaged had Shahbaz Ahmed, a cricketer with India experience, not dropped a sitter at deep fine leg when Jani was on 25, off Mukesh Kumar’s bowling. That was early in the day’s final session which began after a delay of 25 minutes owing to bad light. The visitors’ lead had just crossed 60 then.

With such an easy opportunity grassed, the drooping shoulders only reflected the low morale of the Bengal team, which Vasavada and Jani simply cashed in on.

The pitch is comparatively easier to bat on than how it was on Day I morning. But to be fair to Saurashtra, their batters not just applied themselves better in these conditions but also sent a message across to the Bengal camp, proving they are capable of batting well on pace-friendly tracks as well.

Bengal had a whiff of a chance on Friday morning when they pegged Saurashtra back at 109/4. But the bowlers, including Mukesh and Akash Deep, lacked the punch required.

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