Chandigarh upset Bengal, climb to top of table

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Kolkata, Feb 23 (PTI) Chandigarh continued their giant-killing run in their Elite debut, stunning hosts Bengal by five wickets in a Vijay Hazare Group E clash at the Eden Gardens here on Tuesday.

Fresh from their win over neighbours Haryana, Chandigarh who were playing their second domestic season chased down Bengal's 253/9 with seven balls to spare to climb up to the top of the group table, ahead of Saurashra on net-run rate.

Saurashtra secured a thrilling one-wicket win over star-studded Haryana at the 22 Yards Academy in Saltlake.

Hosts Bengal, who made a group stage exit in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s, dropped to third spot with one win and a loss.

Sent in, Bengal found themselves caught in a spin web of Chandigarh trio of Gaurav Gambhir (2/45), Bipul Sharma (2/50) and Gurinder Singh (2/47) as the hosts lost wickets at regular intervals to be restricted to 253/9.

The only bright spot in Bengal's lacklustre batting show was allrounder's Shahbaz Ahmed's 66-ball 59 that provided some stability in the middle before tailenders Akash Deep (25 not out from 13 balls) and Mukesh Kumar (16 from 15b) took the total past 250.

Chandigarh responded with a commanding opening partnership of 126 runs by the duo of Arslan Khan (88 from 95b; 9x4) and skipper Manan Vohra (45 from 68b; 3x4) before the in-form Shivam Bhambri took charge with an calm and composed 71 not out.

With Chandigarh going strong in their chase, Bengal made some inroads in the death overs by picking up three wickets for one run to see the visitors 230/5, needing 24 runs from 22 balls.

But Bhambri, who was scintillating form in the Syed Mushtaq Ali with three successive halfcenturies, held his nerve and sealed the chase with his unbeaten knock from 74 balls that had seven fours and one six.

Brief Scores At Eden Gardens: Bengal 253/9; 50 overs (Shabaz Ahmed 59) lost to Chandigarh 257/5; 48.5 overs (Arslan Khan 88, Shivam Bhambri 71 not out, Manan Vohra 45) by five wickets.

At JU Second Campus, Saltlake: Services 274/7; 50 overs (Ravi Chauhan 118, Pulkit Narang 48 not out, Diwesh Pathania 42 not out) lost to Jammu & Kashmir 276/7; 48 overs (Shubham Khajuria 84, Abdul Samad 63, Shubham Pundir 56 not out) by three wickets.

At 22 Yards: Haryana 264; 50 overs (Chaitanya Bishnoi 84; Chetan Sakariya 3/63) lost to Saurashtra 265/9; 49.1 overs (Snell Patel 79, Arpit Vasavada 46) by one wicket. PTI TAP BS BS BS