Tamil Nadu beats Bengal to lift fifth Vijay Hazare Trophy

Tamil Nadu defeated Bengal by 37 runs to win its fifth Vijay Hazare Trophy at the Ferozshah Kotla ground in New Delhi.

Dinesh Kartik in action against Bengal in the final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy at Ferozshah Kotla in New Delhi.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

Defending a small total, Tamil Nadu gave it all with its bowlers coming good one last time, when it mattered.
The reward for their resilience, that led to a 37-run victory over Bengal, was the Vijay Hazare trophy. Tamil Nadu became a five-time winner and spoilt Bengal’s bid for the third time in the title-clash.

Chasing Tamil Nadu’s none-too-intimidating 217, Bengal started too cautiously, lost two wickets in the fifth over, and always trailed the asking run-rate.

Scorecard

The pressure of the final seemed to affect Bengal when Tamil Nadu medium pacer Aswin Cristy ran out an in-form Abhimanyu Easwaran and bowled Agniv Pan to reduce Bengal to 4 for 2 in the fifth over.

Facing a disciplined bowling, Bengal could never break free. Opener Shreevats Goswami was out to a diving catch by skipper Vijay Shankar before a well-set Manoj Tiwary misread the trajectory and lost his off-stump while attempting to pull.

Sudip Chatterjee and Anustup Majumdar, whose partnership played a crucial role in Bengal’s victory over Maharashtra in the quarterfinal at the same venue, also failed to break the shackles.

Chatterjee fell leg-before and soon thereafter, half-centurion Majumdar lost his leg-stump in his desperate attempt to get the ball away. At this stage, Bengal was 143 for six in the 39th over and Tamil Nadu smelt victory.

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Facing a mounting run-rate, Bengal had no choice but to take chances. Mohammad Shami, who returned to the final and took four wickets earlier in the day, and Pragyan Ojha hit a six each but soon fell.

The medium pacers returned and got the last two wickets to complete a fighting victory for Tamil Nadu.

Interestingly, six out of seven Tamil Nadu bowlers took wickets while the off-spin of Washington Sundar proved the most economical, as he ended with figures of 8-1-17-0. His tight spell added to the pressure that eventually led to the doom of Tiwary and Chatterjee.

A dejected Tiwary admitted Bengal did not execute its plans while chasing a small target. “No matter, what you say during several team meetings, on some days, you don’t get it right. I would have taken 217 any day but when we chased, we came under pressure. Even after we lost early wickets, there was a lot of cricket left but we did not bat well.”

Karthik, whose 120 raised his tally to 607 runs in the competition this season, was understandably pleased after being named Man of the Match.

“Credit to the boys for believing in
themselves,” said Karthik who agreed that his experience of playing big matches helped the team’s cause on Monday. “Some of the boys are young and not used to playing big matches like this final. It happens.”

Asked about his freak hit-wicket that ended Tamil Nadu innings in the 48th over, Karthik broke into a smile and said, “I didn’t know how I disturbed the stumps. I was upset with myself because the ball earned us five byes and I got out like this.”

Electing to bat, Tamil Nadu lost four wickets – three to Dinda’s superlative spell – and again four at the end, including three to Shami. In the intervening period, it was Karthik’s experience that carried Tamil Nadu past 200.

Karthik was last out after swinging at a Shami delivery going wide down the leg-side and dislodged the bails with the bat on the follow-through. In the end, it didn’t count for much as the bowlers did their job to perfection.

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