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Bengal inch closer to victory against Jharkhand in Ranji quarterfinals

2nd February 2023
A fine 81 by Shahbaz Ahmed followed by an impressive performance by the bowlers, put Bengal within touching distance of victory against Jharkhand in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals at the Eden Gardens on Thursday.
After bowling Jharkhand out for 173 in their first innings, Bengal posted a challenging total of 328, which helped the home side claim a vital first innings lead.
Jharkhand, in their second innings, were struggling at 162/7 at stumps on Day 3 with a lead of just seven runs.
Akash Ghatak (2-19), Akash Deep (2-25), Shahbaz Ahmed (2-38) and Ishan Porel (1-50) impressed with the ball for Bengal.
Resuming the day from overnight score of 238/5, Shahbaz and Abishek Porel (33) managed to add 15 runs in the morning before Abishek fell cheaply to reduce the home side to 256/6.
Despite an early wicket, Shahbaz kept his positive intent going.
In his 120-ball innings, the left-handed all-rounder struck nine fours and two sixes.
He ran out of partners at the end as Akash Ghatak (12), Akash Deep (1), Mukesh Kumar all fell cheaply, forcing Shahbaz to take the attacking mode.
He looked determined to score a fine hundred but fell short as the home side's innings ended in 108 overs.
In reply, Jharkhand, in their second innings, were in a spot of bother after being reduced to 21/4 inside 14 overs.
But Aryaman Sen (64) and Anukul Roy (40) managed to add a much-needed 71-run partnership for the fifth wicket to bail the visitors out of trouble and give them some hope of a comeback.
But Shahbaz dismissed Anukul to have half the visitors side back in the hut with 92 on the board.
Showing some fighting spirit, skipper Virat Singh (29) and Aryaman stitched together a 52-run stand for the sixth wicket to take team past the 140-run mark.
Their dismissal put the visitors in more trouble as Supriyo Chakraborty (5) and Shahbaz Nadeem (4) managed to remain unbeaten at the end of the day's play.
"Our bowlers fought well. But we need to stick to our plans and get them out early and chase it down," Bengal head coach Laxmi Ratan Shukla said after the day's play.

Arindam Basu