Bengal dominated the game for three-and-a-half days. Then, Himachal Pradesh’s Rishi Dhawan stole the limelight in the final two sessions on Saturday. Looking for form, Dhawan needed a performance to reboot his Ranji season.
He failed to make a significant impact with the ball during Bengal’s first innings, four wickets notwithstanding. He made 14 with the bat. But in the second innings he stepped it up.
Himachal Pradesh were playing to save the game after being forced to follow-on. And when they lost their seventh wicket for 300, with 70 overs still
to be bowled on the day, defeat loomed. The visitors were leading by 87 runs then.
Dhawan had the dual responsibility of playing for time and stretching the lead. He had to shield Sidharth Sharma, the debutant, from Mohammed Shami and Ashok Dinda as well. A 38-run eighth-wicket partnership proved to be the turning point. Time was more important and 92 minutes had been consumed. Dhawan brilliantly shielded his partner from Shami’s extra pace, refusing easy singles on numerous occasions. Sharma, too, stuck around, scoring his first run after 28 balls.
Himachal Pradesh’s second innings folded for 353 on the stroke of tea. Dhawan remained unbeaten on 51, in 90 balls and 145 minutes. Bengal had a victory target of 141 in 45 overs but they were never going to get the full allotment because of the fading light. Dhawan had all but saved the game.
Brief scores: 419 and 65/4 in 15 overs (R Dhawan 4/37) drew with Himachal Pradesh 206 and 353 all out in 115 overs (P Khanduri 95, R Dhawan 51*; Md Shami 5/109)
Points: Bengal 3, Himachal Pradesh 1