Tamil Nadu made optimum use of bowler-friendly conditions to register a facile victory against Bengal and notch up its second consecutive win in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Sandeep Warrier and T. Natarajan broke Bengal’s back by picking five wickets in the first 10 overs in a 38-over-a-side contest at the Brabourne Stadium. The Bengal batters never recovered from the early blow and folded for 84 in the 24th over.
Tamil Nadu then crossed the target in the 20th over after a bit of a stutter. The five-wicket win, with 18.5 overs to spare, will boost the side’s Net Run Rate, which could come into the equation for the two knockouts spots from Group E.
With heavy overnight rain delaying the start of the game by two hours, it didn’t come as a surprise that Dinesh Karthik opted to bowl the moment the coin landed in his favour. It took Natarajan just three balls to strike, when he uprooted Abhimanyu Easwaran’s off-stump with one that shaped in.
In his next over, a light drizzle interrupted play after Akash Deep’s promotion to see off the new ball didn’t work, with Vijay Shankar snaring a catch.
At seven for two, Warrier took control after the resumption. While Warrier and Natarajan pitched the ball in the channel, the Bengal batters played away from the body to keep Tamil Nadu’s slip cordon busy.
At 42 for five, and the new-ball bowlers making way for Vijay and B. Aparajith’s spin, the onus was on Shakir Gandhi and Shahbaz Ahmed to bail Bengal out. However, Gandhi’s aerial heave resulted in a catch to Natarajan in the deep on the on-side. With the ball gripping into the surface, the spinners made merry despite limited opportunities to ensure Bengal bowlers had too little to defend.
The Bengal pace trio did bowl its heart out. Ishan Porel and Mohammad Kaif picked two wickets each, with the latter being fortunate to have been rewarded with Vijay’s wicket when the ball appeared to have hit him high on the pad and perhaps sliding down leg-side.
N. Jagadeesan’s sensible knock ensured Tamil Nadu crossed the line without any real scare. Come Wednesday and Tamil Nadu will hope to continue its winning run against Baroda.
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