Anustup lead Bengal fightback against Karnataka
29th February 2020
At 67 for 6, Karnataka thought they had done the job 15 minutes past lunch break on the opening day of the semi-final match against host Bengal at Eden Gardens today. They had, however, not taken one Anustup Majumdar into account who scored a career defining 120 not out as Bengal reached 275 for nine.
Aided by the fast improving Shahbaz Ahmed and batting revelation Akashdeep, the pint-sized all-rounder Anustup Majumdar plotted a recovery that looked classy and audacious at the same time. The voices of the 5000 odd people, who had gathered to witness Bengal prowl, once again found tongue as they said ...picture abhi baki hai mere dost!!
When Anustup came out to bat, Bengal's batting looked like the ruins of Mohenjo Daro, that had once raised hope but was ravaged by the marauding trio of Prasidh Krishna, Abhimanyu Mithun and Ronit. But that hardly made any difference to his life. Anustup got about collecting runs, shoring up boundaries, knocking in the gaps for twos and showing glimpses of his skillset with flashing drives, elegant cuts and controlled hooks.
What looked like a pitch with demons in it, suddenly looked like lake placid. He was ably complemented by Shahbaz Ahmed. Ahmed looked in imperious form trading only in boundaries as Bengal reached 124 for 6 at the first drinks break after lunch with Ahmed on 28 off 31 balls with 5 boundaries. He seemed to be carrying on with the bat but for a wicked incutter from Mithun that left his stumps rattled. His gutsy 35 off 50 balls with 7 hits to the fence, gave momentum to the Bengal innings.
At 139 for 7, Karnataka again had their tails up as they bowled to Akashdeep. But they did not expect such a robust counterattack from the Pacer. By the time he got out on 44, he had hit three sixes and three boundaries for his 73 ball innings that left the stadium giving him a round of applause. This 8th wicket partnership of 103 hurt the visitors.
Meanwhile, Anustup went about his job like a field mouse before winter. Collecting runs, saving his end, guiding the lower order bats and keeping the scoreboard busy all the time. At 99 he had a few nervy moments, before bludgeoning Mithun over midwicket to reach his century. At 103 off 162 balls with 15 boundaries, he walked into the cricketing annals with a signature innings that defined his guts and calibre.
Earlier, in the morning session Bengal lost the toss and the plot with the top order failing to fire again. Raman and Shreevats failed to open their accounts, while skipper Abhimanyu Easwaran (15), Sudip Chatterjee (20), Manoj Tiwary (8) and Arnab Nandy (17) all getting out after getting set.
But then cricket is a game of glorious uncertainty.
CAB MEDIA DESK