Ranji Trophy QF: Bengal through to semifinals

Bengal witnessed some insignificant milestones on Monday as its quarterfinal match against defending champion Gujarat ended in a dull draw, paving way for the Manoj Tiwary-led side's expected progress to the semifinals.

Bengal opener Abhimanyu Easwaran, who was named the man of the match, in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal match against Gujarat in Jaipur on Monday.   -  Y. B. Sarangi

Bengal witnessed some insignificant milestones on Monday as its quarterfinal match against defending champion Gujarat ended in a dull draw, paving way for the Manoj Tiwary-led side's expected progress to the semifinals.

On the fifth and final day of the contest at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium here, Bengal continued with its marathon second innings to aggregate 695 for six before the draw was agreed upon. Bengal advanced on the basis of its first innings lead.

Bengal last reached the semifinals in 2014, when it had lost to Maharashtra.

With the pitch getting flatter and predictable, Bengal chose to give its batsmen some match practice and save its bowlers for the bigger test ahead. Notwithstanding a stoppage of about 30 minutes in the post-lunch session due to bad light, it batted for an overall 231 overs and got its highest second innings total.

A second stoppage around tea time eventually turned out to be the end of the dragging affair.

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Starting from its overnight total of 483 for four, Bengal lost its double century maker Writtick Chatterjee in the fourth over of the morning. Chatterjee, who began from 213, added only three runs to his score before being caught behind off pacer Chintan Gaja.

In-form batsman Anustup Majumder, who was on six the previous evening, relished the opportunity to bring up his seventh century and third of the season. Majumder, who had missed out on a hundred in the first essay by just six runs, was the third batsman to score a century in Bengal's second innings.

Majumder's unbeaten 132 came off 172 balls and contained 17 fours and one six. Aamir Gani also scored his half-century (53 not out, 156b, 4x4).

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Gujarat bowlers went through the motions in the absence of its captain Parthiv Patel, who chose to stay indoors to protect the minor finger injury.

Bengal skipper Tiwary said the good work of his bowlers and the two centuries by opener Abhimanyu Easwaran, who was adjudged the man of the match, had major contributions in the team's dominating performance.

Looking forward to the semifinal, Tiwary said, “We are emotional people, but it is important to stay focused as we want to win the Ranji Trophy. The youngsters need to keep calm. It is not a problem these days as they are taught by our coach (Sairaj Bahutule) how to do it.”