The potent Bengal bowling attack rose to the challenge to bundle out Hyderabad for 166 on the fourth and final day and fashion a 72-run win in the Ranji Trophy Elite Group B match at the Barabati Stadium here on Sunday.
Akash Deep gave a spirited performance to claim four wickets and Shahbaz, who again became the man-of-the-match, underscored his utility as an all-rounder by taking three wickets to contribute massively in Bengal’s second successive victory.
Chasing 239, Hyderabad, which resumed from a disadvantaged position of 16 for three, was all out inside two sessions despite overnight batsman Tilak Varma’s defiant knock (90, 152b, 9x4, 1x6).
The momentum shifted towards Bengal as Akash, who had bowled Akshath Reddy in the last delivery of the third day, removed Himalay Agarwal in the very first ball of the morning. The ball brushed Himalay’s pads to dislodge one of the bails.
Despite the constant probing by Bengal pacers in cool and seaming conditions, the young left-handed pair of Tilak, who began from 11, and Prateek Reddy (19) stood solidly to gather 42 runs until Shahbaz’s introduction.
The left-arm spinner landed the ball on the rough to ask questions to the left-handers in his long 16-over spell. He struck in his second over as Prateek tried to reverse-sweep.
Akash explored different angles on a fourth-day pitch and had Buddhi Rahul (17) caught behind as Hyderabad was in deeper trouble at 106 for six at lunch.
Tilak, who drove, cut and pulled smartly, and Ravi Teja (23) tried to hold the fort and put up 49 runs before Ravi edged Shahbaz to first slip.
Tanay Thyagarajan inside-edged one on to the stumps in Shahbaz’s next over.
Mukesh Kumar dismissed Rakshann Readdi and Akash bowled with energy to have Tilak caught spectacularly by substitute fielder Pradipta Pramanik at deep midwicket as Bengal recorded another terrific win to top the group.
“Our team showed great strength of character. We have got a great bowling side and we kept fighting till the end,” said Bengal coach Arun Lal.
Lal, however, said Bengal needed to improve its batting in its next match against Chandigarh.
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