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Manoj, Shahbaz lead Bengal fightback

15th June 2022
Experienced campaigner Manoj Tiwary along with talented all-rounder Shahbaz Ahamad stitched a 143-run sixth-wicket partnership to rescue Bengal from 54/5 in a high-voltage Ranji trophy semifinal game against Madhya Pradesh.
Bengal coach Arun Lal said at the end of the second day's play: "Amazing cricketers both of them. Manoj is a legend, nobody has scored more runs for Bengal than he has. He showed his hunger today, also he's extremely well equipped to handle pressure and turning ball. He's very skillful, understands the game and can take some fearless decisions."
"Shahbaz is unbelievable, his temperament is unbelievable. Almost a guaranteed success. But these accolades are amount to nothing unless you get a lead, a big one," he added.
Resuming the day on 271/6 Madhya Pradesh were bundled out for 341 runs. Bengal got off to a shaky start losing Abhishek Raman and Sudip Gharami before they could open their accounts.
To make things worse Anustup Majumder who scored a swift hundred in the last game went back for only 4 and skipper Abhimanyu Easwaran was caught byHimanshu Mantri off Puneet Datey on 22.
While a desperate Bengal side was looking for a steady partnership youngster Abhishek Porel became Datey's second victim.
Things changed drastically after Shahbaz joined Manoj in the middle. Rotating strikes and timely boundaries changed Bengal's fortune and the duo added 143 runs to take Bengal to 197/5.
Earlier Mantri went back after scoring fluent 165, highest among MP batters. Mukesh Kumar's disciplined bowling paid off as the Bengal pacer picked up 4 wickets for 66 runs.
Lal talked about the bowlers: "Pressure in a semifinal match is expected, there's nothing in this wicket but Mukesh, Akash both bowled superbly."

Rio Dutta