Bengal defeated Jharkhand by nine wickets on the fourth day of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal match at the Eden Gardens here to advanced to the semifinals.
Jharkhand, resuming its second innings from 162 for seven, resisted Bengal’s push for victory for about 90 minutes. It managed an aggregate of 221 to set a target of 67, which the home side chased down in about an hour. Bengal will meet defending champion Madhya Pradesh in a repeat of the previous season’s last-four clash.
Mukesh Kumar accounted for Shahbaz Nadeem in the first over of the day. Thereafter, Bengal bowlers lacked discipline and the Jharkhand tail wagged longer than expected. Overnight batter Supriyo Chakraborty and Rahul Shukla batted with pride and showed positive intent to gather runs without getting bogged down by pressure. They added 56 runs for the ninth wicket to delay the inevitable.
Having taken two crucial wickets in Bengal’s first essay, Supriyo (41 n.o., 83b, 7x4) showed his fine all-round skills. He played a fighting knock, comprising nicely executed boundaries and well-calculated singles to protect less skillful batters. He was Jharkhand’s second-highest run-getter in the second essay.
The partnership was broken when Rahul was run out in the 64th over, which also witnessed the fall of last man Ashish Kumar with Akash Ghatak recording his best bowling performance (three for 21).
Bengal lost Kazi Saifi to Rahul in the fourth over, but in-form batters Abhimanyu Easwaran (28 n.o., 31b, 4x4) and Sudip Gharami (26 n.o., 30b, 4x4, 1x6), who was let off on 18 by Shahbaz Nadeem off his own bowling, collected 48 quick runs and ensured their team’s win in the extended first session.
“Our aim is to win the Ranji Trophy. We have some areas of improvement, though,” said Bengal skipper Manoj Tiwary.
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