Vijay Hazare Trophy: Mukund, Jagadeesan make light work of Bengal

Abhinav Mukund fell six short of a deserving 11th List ‘A’ hundred as Tamil Nadu made light work of Bengal’s total, romping home by six wickets in a Vijay Hazare match on Sunday.

Abhinav Mukund cut, drove and pulled his way to 94, studded with eleven boundaries.   -  R. Ragu

Abhinav Mukund (94, 100b, 4x11) fell six short of a deserving 11th List ‘A’ hundred as Tamil Nadu made light work of Bengal’s total, romping home by six wickets in a Vijay Hazare match here on Sunday.

The experienced Mukund and wicket-keeper batsman, N. Jagadeesan (55, 52b, 5x4, 2x6), added 143 runs for the opening wicket, laying into a Bengal attack that didn't pose a challenge at any stage of the innings. 

Mukund cut, drove and pulled his way to 94, studded with eleven boundaries while Jagadeesan grew in confidence as the chase wore on.

The right-hander essayed a flurry of expansive strokes but a mighty heave over long-on for six off Ashok Dinda stood out.

Jagadeesan scored an entertaining half-century off 42 balls with as many as 32 of those coming through boundaries and sixes before falling off Prayas Barman's bowling. Eight overs later,  Barman (2 for 35) got rid of Mukund too but by then, it was all a case of too little too late as the host team got home with more than eight overs to spare.

Easwaran leads charge

Earlier, Tamil Nadu won the toss and inserted Bengal in to bat. Vijay Shankar's decision seemed vindicated when opener Vivek Singh, and Sudip Chatterjee were both out cheaply.

Abhimanyu Easwaran (72, 97b, 4x4, 1x6)  and Manoj Tiwary(47, 69b, 4x4, 1x6) made amends with Easwaran grinding it out on a pitch that had little to offer in terms of pace and bounce.

The right-hander brought up his fifty off 76 balls and along with skipper Tiwary, helped Bengal to 100 in 24.1 overs. 

Tamil Nadu played three spinners in Rahil Shah, Sai Kishore and Varun C who took on a major workload in the middle overs — between overs 17 and 33, the trio bowled all 16 — before the re-introduction of pace in the 34th over. 

Kishore broke the 91-run third-wicket stand when Tiwary, who didn't go through with his shot, hit a full delivery to long-off where B. Anirudh dived forward and took an excellent tumbling catch. Easwaran followed suit, his gritty 97-ball 72 ending in a rather contentious fashion. 

He flicked Koushik low to substitute Shahrukh Khan at short mid-wicket, who claimed the catch — it looked like the ball had touched the ground — and the batsman was given out. Anustup Majumdar, however, hammered a few lusty blows — two sixes and a boundary — and his 33-ball 39 helped Bengal to 239. 

For Tamil Nadu, Shankar was the pick of the bowlers returning figures of four for 34 as Bengal suffered a collapse, losing its last five wickets for a mere 14 runs in 3.4 overs.

Mukund 'enjoying' his game

Mukund made it clear that he is enjoying his 'cricket at the moment'. "It's a conscious effort to not get caught up in matters of selection and shoulder the responsibility of taking the team home. As a batsman,  I've my strengths and weaknesses like everyone else.  I'm not going to change my style — my style is to score plenty of runs, if I do that, I'll be back in the reckoning," said Mukund, who has been out of India reckoning for a while.