Skipper Dinesh Karthik and M Shahrukh Khan put on a brilliant display of power hitting to set the stage for Tamil Nadu’s 74-run win over Bengal, the team's fourth in as many matches, in the Elite Group C match of Vijay Hazare trophy here on Tuesday.
From a precarious position (123-5 in 36.2), Karthik (97, 62b, 8x4, 4x6) and Shahrukh (69 n.o., 45b, 4x4, 5x6) thrashed the Bengal bowlers all over the park to post a huge total of 286 with 135 runs coming off the last nine overs.
In the final five overs of the match, Karthik showed his finishing prowess with some clean hitting, be it straight down the ground, over the third man region or with some paddle shots behind square on the leg side.
Chasing 287 for victory, Bengal’s innings went off the rails in the first 10 overs itself after K Vignesh and T Natarajan picked up two wickets each with some impressive lines, getting three out of the four batsmen caught behind or at slip.
Then M Ashwin’s brilliant throw on the run with one stump to aim at found Sudip Chatterjee short of his crease to reduce Bengal to 21 for five in the eighth over.
Shahbaz Ahmed’s valiant 107 (131b, 7x4, 4x6) could only reduce the margin and delay the inevitable, thanks largely to a 107-run partnership with Anustup Majumdar for the sixth-wicket. Left-arm spinner Ahmed was also the best bowler for Bengal with his efforts of 1/33 in ten overs.
Earlier, put into bat, TN kept losing wickets at regular intervals with the score reading 83 for four in the 26th over.
Vijay Shankar and Karthik then staged a recovery act from there on with the India all-rounder looking in fine touch. He was looking comfortable on 41 when he swept off-spinner Arnab Nandi straight to the mid-wicket fielder inside the ring.
Karthik then took charge and along with Shahrukh steadied things till the 40th over. Dinda could have had Shahrukh leg-before on 13 had the bowler not overstepped and the error proved costly for Bengal.
From there on, the two batsmen turned on their big hitting game. In the 45th over, Karthik cut Akash over point for a huge six to bring his fifty in style before slamming two more boundaries in that over.
Shahrukh then went after Akash in the 47th over, with two fours and two sixes to bring his half-century with 24 coming off that over.
Then Dinda was at the receiving end of Karthik’s bat as the fast bowler was hit all over the park - scoop over fine leg, a six over long on before Sharukh chipped in with a six as well in the over that went for 22 runs.
The India wicket-keeper batsmen then swept and reverse-swept Manoj Tiwary for a six and four before being bowled going for a big one on 97, but not before putting his team firmly in the driver’s seat.
Brief scores: Tamil Nadu 286 for seven in 50 overs (Dinesh Karthik 97, M Shahrukh Khan 69 n.o., Vijay Shankar 41, B. Aparajith 34) bt Bengal 212 in 45.3 overs (Shahbaz 107, Anustup Majumdar 36)