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Fixture & Results


Shahbaz, Abhishek script fairytale win
for Bengal

20th February 2022
In a mother of turnarounds, Bengal lifted itself out of the ignominious wormhole, of being bowled out for 88 in the first essay, to chase down 350 in the second with enough daylight on the shores of Mahanadi against Baroda in their opening league tie of the Raji Trophy.
Having inherited a deficit of 88 runs from the first innings, Bengal needed to chase 350 runs after Baroda were restricted to 255 in their second. Skipper Abhimanyu Easwaran showed determination upfront scoring a patient 79 even as Sudip Gharami and Writtick Chatterjee departed cheap. But in company of Anustup Majumdar (33) and then the latter in company of Manoj Tiwari (37) took Bengal to 176 for five.
Bengal skipper Abhimanyu Easwaran’s said after Bengal’s 4-wicket win over Baroda: “It’s been a great game for us, great comeback after being bundled out for 88 in the first innings. Every player has contributed to the cause, as the batsmen have shown character the bowlers have done commendable jobs too. It’s about believing in the hqard work that we have put in. The best part is even when we had 349 runs to chase, every single member of the team believed that we can do the job. Shahbaz has batted with a lot of responsibility, special mention to Abhishek Porel- the character he showed, the attitude he was batting with was great to watch.”
The target looked really distant and Baroda bowlers were licking their lips. But Shahbaz Ahmed walked in with other ideas. He carried his pre-season form into his batting and showed controlled aggression as he slowly broke the Baroda bowling brick by brick, picking the bad balls for boundaries and keeping the flow of runs alive.
He was joined by debutant Abhishek Porel, as Tiwary departed. Porel showed maturity and class and some counter aggression as he began finding boundaries at ease. Suddenly the wicket looked a lot easier and the duo made sure Bengal cantered home with a four wicket win.
While Shahbaz scored 71 runs off 100 deliveries with seven boundaries, Porel’s 53 was studded with the same number of boundaries off just 70 balls.
An elated Porel said: “It feels incredible. Wanted to start well for senior team and as always it feels great to win for Bengal. There was some pressure but teammates, seniors helped a lot, advised to play my normal game. Shahbaz da (brother) guided me while we were batting on the wicket. I played according to our plan and played my normal game. He asked me to bat with positive intent, to make short partnerships and close the match.”
When asked about what was head coach Arun Lal’s message after the match-winning innings Abhishek said: “He congratulated me and said there’s a long way to go.”
The pace trio of Mukesh Kumar, Ishan Porel and Akash Deep kept Bengal in the match restricting Baroda to totals that would give Bengal a fighting chance to salvage points from a position of disadvantage.

Rio Dutta