Up against one of the most experienced batting line-ups of the tournament, and with only 167 runs to defend, Bengal looked out of the Vijay Hazare trophy at the half-way stage of their quarterfinal match against Tamil Nadu at the Eden Gardens on Tuesday.
But it wasn’t over yet. Thirteen overs into the second innings, their fast bowlers, Mohammed Shami and Ashok Dinda, had turned the game on its head, leaving Tamil Nadu reeling at 25 for five. It was all but over now.
Tamil Nadu were eventually bowled out for 90 in 33.5 overs and Bengal secured a berth in the semifinal, where they await the winners of the Punjab versus Railways match.
Dinda started the rout with a fantastic outswinger that saw Anirudha Srikkanth poke at it and offer a sharp catch to Sudip Chatterjee at second slip. Another outswinger got rid of the IPL million-dollar man Dinesh Karthik, who was caught behind. In between, Shami spat venom and made the Tamil Nadu batters hop and jump with his incoming deliveries. Baba Aparajith was beaten for pace and was trapped plumb in front.
Ravichandran Ashwin offered no stroke to an in-cutter and was adjudged leg before. Tamil Nadu captain Subramaniam Badrinath mis-timed an on-side flick to give a return catch to Shami. Soon after the fast bowler was taken out of the attack and his first spell read: 6-0-13-3. Dinda complemented him very well with the figures of 7-3-12-2. Both Shami and Dinda later returned to take one more wicket each.
Only Murali Vijay resisted the duo a bit at what were extremely seamer-friendly conditions, but he got no help from the other end. And after playing 85 balls for 24 runs, Vijay too lost patience and top-edged a pull of Veer Pratap Singh to deep fine leg where Sayan Sekhar Mondal latched on to a difficult catch.
After the opener’s wicket, only formalities remained.
Earlier, Bengal won the toss and chose to bat first but suffered a collapse against Yo Mahesh. The Tamil Nadu medium pacer bowled a perfect length and moved the ball both ways and was rewarded with four wickets. Other bowlers also supported him well.
Bengal batting lacked the will to fight out the tough conditions. Saurasish Lahiri (32) and Dinda (21 not out), however, added vital runs towards the end.
Manoj Tiwary looked pretty organised in his first national-level match after a seven-month injury lay-off. The six over long-on off Ashwin was contemptuous. But Mahesh snuck one through his defence and Tiwary was out after a 33-ball 25.
His two wickets notwithstanding, Ashwin didn’t look convincing. He bowled just one over in his first spell and gave away 11 runs. The offie was brought back only after the Bengal top order was gone. Still, continued…