Ranji Trophy: Rishi Dhawan earns Himachal a moral-boosting draw

Himachal, which resumed at 207 for two, scored 353 in its second innings after following on and set Bengal an irritating target of 141 in the final session.

Rishi Dhawan scored a responsible half-century and took four wickets to help Himachal salvage a draw.   -  PTI

Rishi Dhawan's excellent all-round showing nearly turned the table on Bengal as Himachal gathered a valuable point in a morale-boosting draw in the Ranji Trophy Group D match at the Eden Gardens here on Saturday.

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Dhawan batted with responsibility to single-handedly guide Himachal from the danger of defeat as the visiting team, which resumed at 207 for two, scored 353 in its second innings after following on and set the host an irritating target of 141 in the final session.

Bengal, which lost four quick wickets to Dhawan, survived a scare to be at 65 for four at the close of play. Bengal, which was eyeing seven points, had to settle for only three on the basis of gaining the first innings lead.

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The final day belonged to the energetic Dhawan.

Even after avoiding an innings defeat due to the good work of its top order batsmen, including opener Priyanshu Khanduri (95, 238b, 11x4, 1x6), Himachal was staring at a possible loss with the scorecard reading 292 for six at lunch.

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However, Dhawan restrained his aggressive style to stand for two invaluable partnerships worth 38 runs with Sidharth Sharma (1) and 15 runs with Gurvinder Singh (4). Besides the runs, the two hours these two partnerships consumed helped Himachal thwart Bengal's attempt to secure a win.

Dhawan protected his lower order partners, faced the fury of Mohammad Shami and Ashok Dinda and rotated the strike to score a deserving half-century (51 not out, 90b, 7x4).

Earlier, Khanduri, starting from 67, and Nikhil Gangta, resuming on 43, consolidated Himachal's position with a 93-run stand for the third wicket. Shami broke the partnership by having Gangta (57, 92b, 9x4) caught behind.

Working hard in tandem with Ashok Dinda, Shami took three more to bag his seventh fifer. Dinda got the prized scalp of a patient Khanduri, who edged one to Saha down the leg-side, as he returned with figures of three for 74.