February 9, 2002

Bengal draw with Gujarat to book semi-final berth

Staff Reporter

For almost the entire fifth day at Eden Gardens, Bengal and and Gujarat may as well have been batting on completely different pitches, each the polar opposite of the other. The result, as was predictable for much of the day, was a draw, and Bengal qualified for the semi-finals of the Ranji Trophy by virtue of their first-innings lead.

Resuming on 279/3, Bengal continued to pile on the runs with little difficulty. Rohan Gavaskar missed out on a century, adding only four runs to his overnight score of 74 before falling. But Subhomoy Das and Sanjib Sanyal, first-innings heroes, repeated their Damon-and-Pythias act, sticking together for a stand of 162 runs for the fifth wicket.

Sanyal was the first to fall, tragically run out just eight runs short of his second hundred in the match. His 92 came off 132 balls and featured 11 fours. Das took his time over his hundred, making 107 off 196 balls, with 12 fours, before he too was run out.

Gavaskar declared on the stroke of that run-out, leaving Gujarat with an impossible target of 515 runs. Sanyal, however, was not done yet. Determined to make his mark on this match as deep as possible, he picked two quick wickets for Bengal fans to actually entertain visions of an outright win.

Three more wickets did fall, but Gujarat's batsmen held on long enough to draw the match. At stumps, the visitors were 69/5, but the score was only of academic value, for Bengal had effectively won the quarter-final by qualifying for the semi-finals.