Bengal and Punjab's desperate attempt to make the most of a dead duel provided some exciting action in the final hour, as the Group B Ranji Trophy match ended in a draw at the Jadavpur University Ground here on Thursday.
Resuming at 218 for two, Bengal, boosted by Abhimanyu Easwaran's maiden unbeaten double century and Manoj Tiwary's 26th ton, declared its second innings at 432 for six and set Punjab a tough target of 173 in 16 overs.
Punjab banked on Manpreet Gony's blazing 28-ball 58 to stay in search of an outright win before managing 132 for five in 15 overs.
The touring side collected three points for gaining the first innings lead to gather a total of 23. The host also had 23 after securing one point. Both failed to reach the quarterfinals.
Bengal began the day with Abhimanyu on 100 and Tiwary on 90. The duo's vital 222-run joint effort ended with the fall of Tiwary (105, 173b, 10x4, 1x6), who scored his second hundred of the season before being played on in the 14th over.
Abhimanyu concentrated hard and added 86 runs with Writtick Chatterjee (48, 114b, 9x4) and 66 with Shreevats Goswami (32, 50b, 3x4, 1x6) during his 10-hour stay in the middle.
The opener, dropped on 154 off Siddarth Kaul, ignored his troubling left leg as he drove nicely and ran hard in his patient knock (201 not out, 373b, 16x4).
Bengal declared soon after Abhimanyu achieved the landmark.
Facing an improbable task of scoring at 10.81 runs per over, with no restrictions on the fielding side, Punjab gave Bengal a scare and the sparse crowd some entertainment.
It lost three wickets quickly, but benefitted by promoting Gony.
Gony's mistake sent back Yuvraj, but his thundering strikes, including two fours and six mighty sixes, kept Punjab on track.
Bengal pace ace Ashoke Dinda, who was earlier butchered by Gony, bowled a tight 12th over, conceding only six runs, to mount the asking rate.
Pradipta Pramanik scalped Gony in the following over to halt Punjab's gutsy chase.
Brief scores: Bengal 187 & 432/6 (A Easwaran 201 not out, M Tiwary 105; M Markande 3/123) Punjab 447 & 132/5 (M Gony 58, M Singh 35; P Pramanik 1/33); match drawn
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