Cricket Association of Bengal triumphs

THE Cricket Association of Bengal clinched the MRF Trophy for the KSCA All India invitation tournament in Bangalore. Helping the Bengal cause was the inexperience of its opponent, the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) XI. In the final, the Bengal team defeated KSCA XI by 56 runs as the host floundered on the homestretch while chasing 228 at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.

It was a match that pitted Bengal's experience — as epitomised by its captain and veteran player Utpal Chatterjee — against KSCA XI's youth. The KSCA XI began its run chase well, through opener Robin Uthappa and Stuart Binny. Robin, a youngster who strikes the ball hard has, in recent times, become selective with his shots and it showed in his cameo that propelled KSCA XI towards the target.

However, Robin's bid to clear the fence against the spinners proved fatal. Runs flowed as time and again Shyam Ponnappa flicked off-spinner Sourasish Lahiri over mid-wicket, but an attempt to do an encore left the team think-tank fuming in the dressing room. Stuart Binny (44) kept the host in the hunt and displayed confidence while essaying shots off the front-foot. However, his inexperience showed as Stuart continued to free his arms despite the asking-rate hovering well within reach and K. M. Aiyappa and Vinay Uthappa indulged in suicidal runs-outs.

Bengal got back into the game thanks to left-arm spinner Utpal Chatterjee and off-spinner Sourasish Lahiri. The spinners bowled a flat trajectory and with the opponent batsmen displaying a penchant for extravagant shots and getting out in the process, the KSCA XI was bowled out for 171 in 34 overs. "They could have easily won the match but their inexperience showed," said KSCA coach Abhiram, later.

Earlier, Bengal showed character as the middle-order, propped up by Anirudh Roy (87) and Man-of-the-Final Laxmi Ratan Shukla (77), posted a first innings score of 303. In reply Karnataka fell short by 27 runs as its batsmen succumbed to the web spun by spinners Utpal Chatterjee and Shib Sagar Singh. Bengal did well in its second innings posting 200 for nine in 40 overs though its bid for quick runs helped off-spinner Udit Patel to grab six wickets. Sadly KSCA fell short in its chase and the efforts of Robin and Stuart went in vain.

In the semi-finals, Cricket Association of Bengal defeated Indian Airlines by an innings and 68 runs while KSCA XI scored a 111-run victory over Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB). KSCA seamer Vinay Kumar's hat-trick that also included Railways' skipper Yere Goud's prized scalp derailed the visitor's chase and helped the host secure a final berth. Bengal had it rather easy, as Indian Airlines never figured in the match after being shot out for just 94 in the first innings, its batsmen falling to loose shots.

The tournament however did suffer as prime sponsors MRF and other Chennai-based teams, busy with the local league, failed to turn up.

The scores (final):

Cricket Association of Bengal 303 in 86.4 overs (Anirudh Roy 87, L. R. Shukla 77, Shib Sagar Singh 38, Amitava Chakraborthy 30, Stuart Binny four for 66, Affan Sheriff three for 44, S. Vadiyaraj three for 78) and 200 for nine in 40 overs (Subhomoy Das 68, A. Roy 28, Udit Patel six for 65) bt KSCA XI 276 in 89 overs (Robin Uthappa 56, Stuart Binny 52, Affan Sheriff 52, A. V. Sandeep 42, R. Vinay Kumar 25, Shib Sagar Singh four for 71, Utpal Chatterjee three for 86) and 171 in 34 overs (Robin Uthappa 57, Stuart Binny 44, Shyam Ponappa 27, Sourasish Lahiri four for 38, Utpal Chatterjee three for 61). — K. C. Vijaya Kumar