Six points is what Bengal sought, schadenfreude is what they got. Keeping Punjab out of the Ranji Trophy quarter-finals this term was made possible on Thursday by Abhimanyu Easwaran’s maiden first-class double hundred, an unbeaten 201 (16×4; 373b) that came on the back of an unconquered 183 both in the second innings.
Also needing six points from this Elite Group B game to graduate to the next stage, Punjab took away half that by virtue of a first innings lead and left the Jadavpur University Salt Lake campus scoring 132/5 in 14 overs after Bengal, having declared on 432/6, asked them to chase 173 in 16. Both teams ended campaigns on 23 points.
The excitement of Punjab picking up the gauntlet with Manpreet Gony 58 (2×4; 6×6; 28b) notching up 10-run overs making the most of a reprieve from Writtick Chatterjee on 43 and surviving a stumping on 58 was ended by left-arm spinner Pradipta Pramanik.
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Having been the victim on both occasions, Pramanik changed a leg-stump line and had Gony clean bowled.
“Given how he bats, I am surprised he (Gony) doesn’t have an IPL team. He batted like this in the Vijay Hazare Trophy too this season,” said Punjab skipper Mandeep Singh.
Gony’s dismissal calmed Bengal mentor Arun Lal who was seen nervously pacing in front of the dressing room. Though Pramanik got Gony, it was the innings’ 12th over bowled by Bengal’s most consistent performer over the years Ashoke Dinda that stopped Punjab. Dinda conceded six runs after Punjab had scored 120/3 in 11. Dropping catches and being shoddy in the field in that time, it also showed how easily Bengal panic.
Panic Easwaran didn’t, not even after Manoj Tiwary fell on 105 (10×4, 1×6; 173b) unable to cope with one from left-arm spinner Vinay Choudhary that kept low as he tried to cut. That ended their 222-run third-wicket stand in the same over, the 72nd, in which Bengal erased the 260-run deficit.
Their partnership may have all but doused Punjab’s hopes of an outright win but Easwaran made it sure along with Chatterjee 48 (9×4; 114b), who survived a catch appeal at silly point off Mayank Markand on 12, and Shreevats Goswami 32 (3×4; 1×6; 50b).
Easwaran got a life on 154, wicket-keeper Gitansh Khera dropping a chance low on his left, but fought fatigue and being hurt while diving to make the crease to bat for almost 10 hours. A brace on the off-side fetched Easwaran to 200 and Bengal declared soon after.
“His conversion rate is something we need to learn from,” said Mandeep of Easwaran.
First Published: Jan 10, 2019 17:48 IST
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