On a tough pitch on day four, India A’s batter looked flawless and handled the pitch with ease, slamming six fours into his 104-ball shot as Bengal was placed precariously at 96 for 4, needing another 254 points to reach the rigid winning target of 350.
Madhya Pradesh, on the other hand, need six wickets in pursuit of their first Ranji final after 23 years as the game heads to a thrilling finale on Saturday.
Shahbaz Ahmed and captain Abhimanyu Easwaran put in fine performances but Madhya Pradesh limited Bengal to 96/4 before… https://t.co/9xBpdppKpb
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Mumbai Indians left arm spinner Kumar Kartikeya has done maximum damage for Madhya Pradesh.
He held his own, playing 19 non-stop overs to end the day with figures of 3/35 to move into second place on the list of top wicket takers this season along with Jharkhand’s Shabaz Nadeem (25).
Mumbai left arm spinner Shams Mulani tops the list with 37 wickets.
Giving Abhimanyu company at the other end was former warhorse Anustup Majumdar, unbeaten on 8 out of 25 after being dropped down to No.6 in a tactical move.
Bengal also have a capable hitter in Shahbaz waiting in the locker room, but that would be an onerous task on a fifth-day pitch as the odd ball has started to lay low and some deliveries have turned outright transformed.
DON’T MISS: Shahbaz Ahmed’s 5-wicket shot
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Sloppy refereeing and lack of DRS in the Ranji trophy also let Bengal down as they lost the wicket of an in-form Sudip Gharami (19) given lbw by umpire Ravikant Reddy who didn’t noticed the ball hit his glove on a delivery from Saransh Jain who was also off the line.
Abhishek Raman continued his forgettable outing this season, going out for a second successive duck – this time on the first ball – as Bengal got off to a nervous start in their relentless pursuit of 350.
Abhimanyu at the other end looked comfortable and struck with positive intent with Gharami before his partner left in the 12th.
Bengal however also got lucky in their favor and Abhimanyu survived on the 31st when a Kartikeya delivery kissed his stump but that was not enough to dislodge the bail.
Wicketkeeper striker Abhishek Porel (7) was promoted to No. 4 but he didn’t take advantage of the opportunity as it was done by a sharply turned over.
Round one Centurion Tiwary got a reprieve out of six, but he also couldn’t use it and, in his desperation to get going, ran down the track but failed to get proper elevation from Kartikeya Bowling.
Earlier it was Shahbaz Ahmed who did a versatile act and became the fifth from Bengal to score a century and take a fife in the same match for Bengal.
BCCI chairman Sourav Ganguly was the last from Bengal to achieve the feat against Maharashtra in 2005.
Shahbaz continued his first-class first century (116) in the opening innings with a splendid 5/79, sharing nine wickets with fellow left-arm spinner Pradipta Pramanik (4/65).
Riding on the duo’s performance, Bengal knocked out Madhya Pradesh for 281 runs in their second try, after being 163/2 overnight and their last five batters could only add 65 runs.
Shahbaz denied RCB teammate Rajat Patidar (79) a second hundred this season when he trapped him in front to break the towering overnight partnership of more than a century.
Deputy captain Aditya Shrivastava looked more aggressive this morning and struck with urgency, but Shahbaz’s breakthrough sparked a meltdown.
In the space of four overs, the left-arm spinner cleaned up 18-year-old Akshat Raghuwanshi, fresh off his attacking half-century in the opening innings.
Pradipta Pramanik then moved to the fore and secured a third wicket for Bengal this morning when he brushed aside Saransh Jain (11) caught by Shahbaz at a silly point.
Madhya Pradesh 341 and 281; 114.2 passes (Aditya Shrivastava 82, Rajat Patidar 79; Shahbaz Ahmed 5/79, Pradipta Pramanik 4/65).
Bengal 273 and 96/4; 37 overs (Abhimanyu Easwaran 52 at bat; Kumar Kartikeya 3/35).
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