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Superb Shahbaz claims crucial 'six' with a six

7th February 2020
Shahbaz Ahamad's match-winning 61 not out along with two very crucial knocks from Arnab Nandi and Akash Deep sealed a 2-wicket victory over Rajasthan on the fourth day in a must win Ranji Trophy Elite Group A match in Jaipur today.
Shahbaz finished the match with a six and earned his team crucial 6 points and placed Bengal at third position in the points table with 26 points from 7 matches.
After his superb knock Shahbaz said: "Arun Lal sir asked me to stay unbeaten till the end no matter what the result is and I tried to do that only. I didn't take much pressure. I had a good partnership with Arnab and after that with Akash also. I had faith in Akash and he played very well. Mukesh also supported a lot."
"The ball was moving in the morning. It was not easy when they took the new ball also but we batted really well," he added.
Resuming the day with 135 runs needed for victory Bengal lost their experienced batter Sreevats Goswami (21) early to get reduced to 193/5 while Anustup Majumder (35) also went back within 3 overs after that to make things difficult for the visitors.
Cricket Association of Bengal President Avishek Dalmiya congratulated the Bengal team:"To comeback from a position of disadvantage in a must win match shows the tenacity of the boys and their determination as well as their fighting spirit. I congratulate the team and the support staff for gaining much needed 6 points."
The Bengal all-rounder Shahbaz showed off absolute grit and did justice to team management's faith on him by anchoring the run-chase for Bengal with 133-ball 61.
Just when Bengal was exerting control over the run-chase, Rajasthan broke the partnership between Shahbaz and Arnab by removing the latter on 20 off left-arm seamer Tanveer ul Haq which reduced Bengal to 253 for seven, needing 67 runs more to win.
Akash batted beautifully along with Shahbaz to stich a 50-run partnership and after the Bengal pacer went back for 22 another bowler Mukesh who made life difficult for Rajasthan batters earlier with his pace added another crucial 33 runs.
An elated Arun Lal heaped praise on Shahbaz saying: "It's a big win. Shahbaz is a terrific performer. He's got the will, the heart and he can handle pressure. He's done very well in the first match against Kerala, against Hyderabad- he's a major cobtributor. If Shahbaz gets an opportunity to play in the IPL he'll do very well. Because he bowls very tight and hits very big sixes."
"When you gave up a 118-run first innings lead but again comeback to bundle the opponents for 241 and then chase down a 300-plus score- it's a real test of character. Everybody has come out and responded very strongly."
The Bengal coach spoke highly of Akash too: "Akash Deep is capable of becoming an all-rounder but he just doesn't know it. He's got the ability as a batsman also. I think in the next one year we'll see him contributing pretty much consistently with the bat also. Mukesh also suppoerted Shahbaz very well at the end."
Mukesh faced 20 balls adding 9 runs to the scoreboard before Shahbaz finished the match off with a superb six.
Earlier after conceding a 118-run lead, Bengal's bowlers did a fine job to bowl Rajasthan out for 201 in the second innings and needed 320 runs to win.
When asked about the team spirit Shahbaz said: "It was a very important match for us, a must win game. The team's very happy, charged up and we are only thinking about winning the next. Arun Lal sir motivated me in the morning and I am very happy that I have executed well accordingly our plan."
Bengal lower order showed off enough grit, confidence and skills with the bat in a crucial match like this which will definitely boost their moral before taking on Punjab in the last group leage game.

Rio Dutta