Skipper Manoj Tiwary’s personal milestone of 7000 first-class runs was the only highlight on inconsequential final day of the group league encounter between Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, that ended in a draw.
With Gujarat and Tamil Nadu all but assured of a quarter-final berth by the end of the third day, the final day at the Aiforce ground was only of academic interest.
With rescheduling of their smog-affected match against Gujarat being revoked, Bengal ended with 21 points from 8 games while MP finished a notch below at 20.
Bengal’s chances had also evaporated once MP had saved the follow-on on the third day.
For the record, Bengal got three points by virtue of their first innings lead of 115 runs after bowling out MP for 370 in reply to their 475.
Pacer Sayan Ghosh (5/94) recorded his best figures.
With no pressure on them Abhishek Raman (91) and Prasenjit Das (72) added 155 for the opening stand. The match was called off the moment Tiwary reached his 50.
Raman and Prasenjit’s contributions counted for little as it came when it did not matter the least. Nevertheless, they will have something to take from the game.
On personal score of 49, he also completed 7000 first-class runs by a Bengal batsman. The moment he completed 50, the match was called off.
Tiwary now has Sourav Ganguly (15,687), Pankaj Roy (11,868), Arun Lal (10,421), Ashok Malhotra (9784 runs) ahead of him. However Ganguly’s tally has substancial contribution from Test cricket also and even Roy, who scored 2000 plus runs in five-day format.
Lal and Malhotra — Bengal’s pillars through mid 80’s to mid 90’s also scored a chunk of their runs for Delhi, Haryana respectively apart from a few that they score.
While Bengal has had some new talent but may be for the umpteenth time in the last 11 years, Tiwary again emerged as the highest scorer in the season with 643 runs while the next best Sudip Chatterjee (557) is nearly 100 runs behind.
The likes of Abhianyu Easwaran and Sayan Sekhar Mondal failed to shine when they played bigger teams like Mumbai and Tamil Nadu.
Shreevats Goswami (492 runs) played an absolute gem against MP but one would have expected more such knocks from him. Had he been able to take Bengal past finishing line in a low scoring thriller at Lahli, it would have been a different situation but he lacked support at the other end.
Ditto with the bowling where Ashok Dinda (39 wickets) was cut above rest with rookie Amit Kuila (20) much behind him.
Having past his prime and not really firing with his altered action, Pragyan Ojha’s 10 wickets from six matches also affected Bengal’s chances.
Skipper Tiwary did not name anyone but said that they could not capitalise on situations. Not winning at Lahli against Baroda, giving away 30 plus runs against Tamil Nadu and not being able to dismiss lower order of Mumbai with 50 overs at their disposal meant that Bengal were not among the eight best states in the National Championship.
“There were moments we needed to seize but we coul d not. But it’s a positive that we have young team which has potential. This is a team for the future. But we need to grab the chances,” Tiwary told reporters at the end of the match.
Bengal 475 and 261/2 (Abhishek Raman 91, Prasenjit Das 72, Manoj Tiwary 50 no)
Madhya Pradesh 370 (Ankit Sharma 94, Rajat Patidar 86, Sayan Ghosh 5/94). Points: Bengal 3; MP 1.