Vijay Hazare Trophy: Railways, Bengal play out thrilling tie

In a near-empty Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur, Railways and Bengal were tied on 223 runs in an Elite Group C match.

Bengal captain Abhimanyu Easwaran (in picture) fell cheaply after he had won the toss and elected to bat first.   -  BISWARANJAN ROUT

Except for the parents of a Bengal cricketer and a few organisers the Sawai Mansingh Stadium was empty on Monday. 

That was a pity as the Vijay Hazare Trophy match between Bengal and Railways produced a tie, and it ended with the last ball.

Pan (28) and Ritwik Roy Choudhary (26) put on 45 for the fifth wicket. But for that partnership, Bengal would have been in deeper trouble, after losing three wickets while adding 16 runs.

Read: Panchal hits century in Gujarat's win, Puducherry crushes Manipur

Sharp fielding

Wicketkeeper and opener Shreevats Goswami (56, 75b, 5x4, 1x6) and Abhishek Raman (42, 37b) put on 75 for the second wicket after their captain Abhimanyu Easwaran was run out by a sharp piece of fielding from counterpart Arindam Ghosh. 

Though Shahbaz Ahmed hung around for a while and made 30, it was a disappointing effort from the Bengal batsmen, who seemed far better at finding the fielders than the gaps. There was a period when not a single boundary was scored for 14 overs. Railways, it has to be mentioned, fielded rather well.

A target of 224 shouldn’t have been difficult on a track that had no demons. When openers Mrunal Devdhar (47, 52b) and Pratham Singh (91, 131b, 9x4, 1x6) stitched together a partnership of 82, scoring ahead of the asking rate, Railways seemed well on track for its third win in the tournament.

Before long, however, a flurry of wickets and a dip in the run-rate, due to a tidy spell of left-arm spin from Shahbaz, saw the Railways chase floundering under pressure. The Bengal men, sensing a chance out of almost nowhere, were now catching and fielding with vigour.

Nervous tail

Railways was still better placed though, needing just 19 from the last four overs with four wickets intact, but a nervous tail failed to wag. It required just one from the final ball of the match, bowled by seamer Ashoke Dinda.

The last man, T. Pradeep hit it in the air straight to mid-off, where substitute Anustump Majumdar dropped the catch. But, he recovered it in time and threw the ball back to run Pradeep out. Such a dramatic finish surely deserved a better audience.

The scores: Bengal 223 in 49.1 overs (Shreevats Goswami 56, Abhishek Raman 42, Shahbaz Ahmed 30, Himanghsu Sangwan 3/49) tied with Railways 223 in 50 overs (Mrunal Devdhar 47, Pratham Singh 91, Sayan Ghosh 3/61)