A crucial 51 run partnership between Debrata Das and Wriddhiman Saha for the sixth wicket helped Bengal book their place in the final against Mumbai. Requiring 206,Bengal reeled at 111 for five in 30 overs on a wicket that was both slow and turning,but Bengal’s lower order helped the side to a three-wicket win.
The Saha-Das pair analysed the situation well and kept rotating strike to revive Bengal,contributing 53 n.o and 23 respectively during the successful chase. Though boundaries were hard to score they made sure the ones and twos kept coming. Their clinical approach slowly and steadily pushed Punjab back to the wall. As the target neared,Punjab’s spinners faltered to concede boundaries,and eventually the match.
The start wasn’t bad for Punjab,who after posting 205,bowled to script until the fall of Bengal’s first five wickets. Rajvinder Singh,one of Punjab’s four spinners,snared opener Joyjit Basu with a delivery that spun sharply. Sourav Ganguly,who was consumed by debutant left arm-spinner Vinay Chaudhary,and Anustup Majumdar got starts,but couldnt push on as Rajvinder struck repeated blows. When Laxmi Ratan Shukla fell for 11,Bengal was in a state of worry. Punjab’s moment of glory was confined to these initial breakthroughs as Saha,scoring his sixth consecutive half-century,displayed a mature for the rest of the chase.
Earlier,Punjab’s top order disappointed again,losing five wickets for 34 as Saurav Sarkar and Arnab Nandi both picked up two wickets in an over. Mandeep Singh and Bipul Sharma made 104 in 144 balls and another 37 runs were added by Harbhajan and Vinay to help Punjab to 205.
Brief scores: Punjab 205/8 in 50 overs (Mandeep Singh 66,Bipul Sharma 59,Harbhajan Singh 39 n.o,Saurav Sarkar 2/24) vs Bengal 208/7 in 47.5 overs (Wriddhiman Saha 53 n.o,Shreewats Goswami 30,Rajvinder Singh 3/19)