Bengal outbat Jharkhand by 41 runs to enter Vijay Hazare final

Indo Asian News Service

New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) Bengal rode on a century each from opening batsmen Shreevats Goswami (101) and Abhimanyu Easwaran (101) to defeat Jharkhand by 41 runs in the semi-final of the Vijay Hazare domestic 50-overs cricket tournament here on Saturday.

Goswami and Easwaran put up an opening stand of 198 and along with veteran Manoj Tiwary's aggressive knock of a 49-ball 75 not out, Bengal posted an imposing total of 329 for four in 50 overs.

Jharkhand were bowled out for 288 in 50 overs, even though iconic former national captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni top-scored with 70 in 62 deliveries and Ishank Jaggi contributed 59.

India discard left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha took 5/71 in 10 overs for Bengal, while medium pacers Kanishk Seth and Sayan Ghosh bagged two wickets each.

The main difference in the match was created by openers Goswami and Easwaran, who laid a rock solid foundation for Bengal. While Goswami hit 11 fours and a six in his 99-ball 101, Easwaran's 121-ball 101 was less stroke-filled, featuring only seven fours and a six.

By the time Bengal lost their first wicket, they had posted 198 in 34.2 overs and such a strong start allowed Tiwary to show his striking ability. The right-hander milked seven fours and two sixes during his 49-ball stay that powered Bengal to 329/4. Agniv Pan (19) and Sudip Chatterjee (19) also add crucial runs late in the Bengal innings.

For Jharkhand, paceman Varun Aaron took two wickets but he proved costly, giving away 89 runs in his stipulated 10 overs. Monu Kumar took a wicket by giving away 40 runs in 10 overs.

Chasing a huge total, Jharkhand didn't get the start they needed, losing Pratyush Singh (11) and Virat Singh (24) to be in a spot of bother at 56/2 in 12.4 overs. Kumar Deobrat (37) perished too, leaving his side at 99/3 in 22.3 overs.

However, the Jharkhand middle-order stepped up even though they always played a catching up game. Saurabh Tiwary (48) and Dhoni (70) put up a 54-run stand for the fourth wicket before the former was bowled by medium pacer Ashoke Dinda.

Jaggi and Dhoni then got down to business and forged a 97-run stand for the fifth wicket. The partnership in just 12 overs made sure that the match came alive and with Dhoni around, Jharkhand's hopes were intact. But with five wickets down, it was a matter of picking up a couple of wickets for Bengal -- which they did.

Dhoni was bowled by Ojha in the final ball of the 43rd over and Sayan removed Jaggi in the 45th over to leave Jharkhand with a stiff task of scoring 72 runs in 5.2 overs.

Afterwards, Ojha ran through the Jharkhand lower-order as they were bowled out for 288, losing by 41 runs.

Brief scores: Bengal: 329/4 in 50 overs (Shreevats Goswami 101, Abhimanyu Easwaran 101, Manoj Tiwary 75; Varun Aaron 2/89. Jharkhand: 288 all out in 50 overs (Mahendra Singh Dhoni 70, Ishank Jaggi 59, Saurabh Tiwary 48; Pragyan Ojha 5/71).