Bengal showed some urgency and were able to put in a clinical performance that helped them brush Pondicherry aside by eight wickets in the Vijay Hazare Trophy on Thursday.
The victory at the Mecon Stadium in Ranchi, which was their second after four matches, does give Bengal a lifeline as they have moved up to third in the Group E standings with eight points.
Opting to bowl, Bengal bowled Pondicherry out for 197 in 43.2 overs. Courtesy Anustup Majumdar’s unbeaten 100 and opener Sudip Gharami’s 56, they then knocked over the required runs with 11 overs to spare.
Bengal’s qualification for the next round, though, still depends on how the other teams in the group fare. But what should be keep them in good stead is how their bowlers in particular performed after a disappointing showing in the previous game against Maharashtra, in which they couldn’t defend 15 off the final over.
All-rounder Shahbaz Ahmed, who had failed to defend those runs last Tuesday, produced a much better performance with three wickets for only 25 runs off his nine overs. The standout bowler for Bengal was Geet Puri (3/24 in 9.2 overs), who has so far put in a decent show in the absence of injured pacer Akash Deep.
Senior pacer Mukesh Kumar (2/40 in eight overs) and left-arm spinner Pradipta Pramanik (2/50) also picked up two wickets apiece.
Captain Abhimanyu Easwaran’s lean patch continued, but his opening partner Gharami and Anustup ensured they made matters easier for Bengal.
Brief scores: Pondicherry 197 in 43.2 overs (P. Dogra 63; G. Puri 3/24, S. Ahmed 3/25). Bengal 202/2 in 39 ovs (A. Majumdar 100 n.o., S Gharami 56). Bengal won by 8 wickets.