Madhya Pradesh dominates Bengal to reach Ranji last-four

For the fifth consecutive day, Madhya Pradesh continued its domination to win the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against Bengal by 355 runs here on Sunday. Needing 788 for victory, the latter went down fighting and was bowled out for 432 in the second innings at the Brabourne Stadium.

Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary's swift 124 of 166 balls only delayed the inevitable.   -  SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

For the fifth consecutive day, Madhya Pradesh continued its domination to win the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against Bengal by 355 runs here on Sunday. Needing 788 for victory, the latter went down fighting and was bowled out for 432 in the second innings at the Brabourne Stadium.

Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary flashed his bat en route to a ferocious 124 off 166 balls on the final day, but it was only in vain. The MP bowlers had a field day, building on doubts in the batsmen’s minds, created in the first innings. Ishwar Pandey was the pick of the bowlers, returning with figures of 8-138 in the knock-out tie.

He is one of the experienced hands in the MP ranks and worked in tandem with younger team-mates Puneet Datey and Chandrakant Sakure to push the batsmen over the edge. “Our batsmen had made sure there was no pressure. We looked at hitting the right line and length, since they had to take risks.”

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Pandey was named Man of the Match. “Performing in a knock-out game feels good. I have got wickets before for MP,” said the wiry bowler, relying on swing and line. Ashok Easwaran, century-makers Tiwary and Pankaj Shaw (118 off 137 balls) and Ashoke Dinda (52 off 42 balls) were his victims.

Datey got three wickets in the first innings, while Sakure had a match haul of six wickets on first-class debut.

Pandey added: “Fast bowlers working together always helps the team. I knew what to do on this track, so I tried to get the point across to the other two,” he said, adding: “Bengal had capable batsmen, but they made mistakes in the first innings, which proved decisive.”

“Devendra Bundela, our captain, is vastly experienced and guides the team well. He is very good at making youngsters settle down,” said Pandey.

After a two-day break, the winning squad heads to Cuttack and will face Mumbai in the semifinals.

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