Sourav fires,Bengal chase in style

Getting the better of an average Assam outfit isn’t anything to take particular pride in. But after today’s convincing eight-wicket win at the Eden Gardens...

Written by Nadim Siraj | Kolkata | Published: February 18, 2009 2:52:35 am

Abhishek sets up win with 68,Wriddhiman hammers ton after Bengal bowlers get the stick

Getting the better of an average Assam outfit isn’t anything to take particular pride in. But after today’s convincing eight-wicket win at the Eden Gardens,Bengal will remember this day for long,since it’s one of those rare days in recent years when batsmen stood up to a stiff challenge and wrapped up an unlikely chase in style.

Of course,Sourav Ganguly was there with the willow at No 3,carving out a well-paced 64 after surviving a scare on 2 to ensure Laxmi Ratan Shukla’s boys completed the 270-run chase without much fuss.

And then stumper-opener Wriddhiman Saha (102 not out off 116 balls) saw his side through from the first ball right to the end,hammering out an innings that barely had any flashy strokes but plenty of gumption.

But the real match-winner of the day for Bengal was young opener Abhishek Banerjee for his blinding 68 that actually set up Bengal’s thumping win over Assam in 45.3 overs in the East Zone leg match of the Vijay Hazare one-day championship.

He didn’t last too long,batting out all of just 71 balls during his 98-run opening stand with Saha off 18 overs. But the manner in which he launched into the Assam bowling and dented their confidence did the trick for Bengal,far long before even halfway into the chase.

By the time the Assam bowlers looked up,21-year-old Banerjee had taken the game away from them with a blistering knock that included 11 telling hits to the fence.

The swashbuckling batting apart,what made the young right-hander’s knock special was the complete domination with which he played,pushing the less-aggressive Saha into the second fiddle’s role.

It needed a calm and composed 136-run partnership for the second wicket between centurion Saha and Ganguly for Bengal to reach their target without too many hiccups.

Ganguly departed over a wild slog after stepping up the scoring that gave the motley crowd some entertainment. But the match was as good as over by then,as Manoj Tiwary (26 not out) just milked the bowling around to get there with Saha.

Bowlers leak runs
If it was Banerjee’s blazing knock that took the match away from Assam,the Bengal bowlers were together responsible for letting the visitors almost run away with the match at one stage.

Electing to bat after winning the toss,Assam surprised one and all with a stellar 269 for 8. Leading the charge for a surprisingly matured Assam batting display was young southpaw opener Shib Sankar Roy,who made the Bengal bowlers struggle with a spectacular 111 off 120 balls.

Giving him company en route to the solid total was Deepak Sharma (79) lower down the order with a fifth-wicket stand of 146. It was this run-a-ball partnership that frustrated the Bengal bowlers,as Ranadeb Bose & Co were left clueless and ended up going through the motions.

Most disappointing of all was the performance of mercurial speedster Ashok Dinda. Touted as this team’s most dependable strike bowler,Dinda was a ghost of himself today,bowling erratic and deservedly getting tonked around by the batsmen.

When he finished with figures of 3 for 84 off 10 overs,one thought Ganguly,instead of languishing for much of the innings at the ropes,should have stepped in with his inputs and helped out Shukla.

His wickets column went nil,but Ranadeb was clearly the pick of the Bengal bowlers,sticking to a disciplined line and length and extracting purchase from the otherwise mundane Eden wicket.

Ganguly’s role in today’s match was not without drama. As the former Indian captain was carving out the watchful knock,the city’s media flocked to the ground in the wake of rumours that he was offered a ticket by Samajwadi Party to contest in the coming elections.

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