Vijay Hazare Trophy: Dhoni's 70 in vain; Bengal enters final

Mahendra Singh Dhoni scored a spirited half-century in Jharkhand's chase of Bengal. But it wasn't enough as Bengal won by 41 runs to enter the final.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni returns to the pavilion after getting out for 70.   -  PTI

The mass appeal of Mahendra Singh Dhoni stood underlined as a crowd of over a 1,000 thronged the Ferozeshah Kotla ground expecting to watch their hero play the winning role for Jharkhand.

But that was not to be.

READ: My team wasn’t bogged down by Dhoni factor, says Manoj Tiwary

Bengal did not let momentary lapses in focus upset its plans of making Monday’s final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy against Tamil Nadu here. After confidently marching to 329 for four in 50 overs, Bengal bowled out Jharkhand for 288 for a comfortable 41-run victory.

Understandably, the vociferous crowd came for Dhoni and the defeat of Jharkhand meant they were denied another opportunity to witness their hero play in the Capital.

They cheered every run, more lustily the four and sixes the former India captain India hit, no less the dropped catch when Dhoni was on six. But were left disappointed when Dhoni was bowled after an entertaining 62-ball 70, including four sixes and two boundaries.

Dhoni, when on six, offered a skier to Ashok Dinda at long-off but the bowler not only failed to judge the catch but also let the ball bounce and cross the boundary ropes. The crowd roared in approval but Amir Gani, the bowler to suffer, was livid at Dinda’s shoddy handiwork.

But a little later, Dinda made some amends by rattling the stumps of Tiwary to end the fourth-wicket stand worth 54 runs.

As long as Dhoni, first in the company of Saurabh Tiwary and later with young Ishan Jaggi, was in the middle, Jharkhand nursed hopes of chasing down the target.

By turns, Tiwary’s 57-ball 48 with two sixes and three boundaries, and Jaggi’s 43-ball 59 with three sixes and three fours, kept alive Jharkhand’s response but eventually, the poor strike-rate of the first three batsmen ensured that the side stayed behind the asking rate.

The departure of Dhoni, bowled as he charged down the wicket to left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, swung the match decisively in Bengal’s favour. The dismissal brought an end to the Dhoni-Jaggi stand worth 97 runs in 12 overs.

Dhoni’s wicket was the first of the six wickets to fall in the space of 38 runs. Ojha ran through the tail to add four more wickets for a tally of five for 71.

Earlier, a business-like Bengal made the most of the invitation to bat. Openers Sreevats Goswami and Abhimanyu Easwaran scored 101 runs each on their way to lay the foundation of 198 runs. Skipper Manoj Tiwary provided the necessary impetus by scoring an unbeaten 75 off just 49 deliveries as the last 10 overs produced 99 runs.