Railways v Bengal, Ranji Trophy, Group B, Delhi, 4th day December 9, 2013

Ill-tempered match ends in draw

The Report by Amit Shetty in Delhi

Railways 306 (Ghosh 88) and 193 for 2 (Bhille 100, K Sharma 80) drew with Bengal 270 (L Shukla 95*, Anureet 5-97)

It took around half an hour for Anureet Singh and Krishnakant Upadhyay to ensure three points for Railways but cricketing achievements became incidental in their ill-tempered Ranji Trophy match against Bengal that witnessed a poor display of sportsmanship from players of both sides.

Anureet who bowled tirelessly for 45 overs was rewarded with a match-haul of 5 for 97 as Bengal were bowled out for 270 in 133.5 overs with Railways getting a 36-run first innings lead to take their points tally to 20. While Railways, currently No. 2 in the group, remain firmly in contention for a place in the last eight, Bengal with 12 points from six matches will need to win both their matches in order to qualify.

Anureet's new-ball partner Upadhyay complemented him well, taking 3 for 78 in 38.5 overs. Bengal captain Laxmi Shukla remained unbeaten on 95 but should partly accept the blame for missing out on a landmark, having exposed his tail-enders by taking a single or three within the first three balls of the over.

But it was the conduct of the players and also one of the coaches that remained the talking point. During the Bengal innings, the umpires had to tell Murali Kartik to get back to his position when he stood near the striker's end, making a show of setting the field while taking a dig at Ashok Dinda. Then there was a slew of unsavoury remarks from the slip-cordon, prompting Shukla to seek square-leg umpire P Jaypal's intervention. It went from bad to worse when Upadhayay gestured a kick after getting last-man Shib Paul, which didn't escape umpire Milind Pathak's eyes.

Upadhyay later told PTI, "It wasn't aimed at Maco [Paul] but I couldn't control my anger as Dinda had said something really abusive. We played in IPL for the same team [Pune Warriors] and suddenly he becomes abusive."

With the match over as contest, Railways batsmen were getting some much needed batting practice and everyone expected play to end as soon as the mandatory overs started. While the visitors were ready to come off the field, Kartik intimated to the match officials that he wanted his batsmen to continue, which irked Bengal further. Once the match ended, the Bengal players, led by Dinda, refused to shake hands with their opponents. Kartik had in fact walked up to the huddle of Bengal players, who were doing their post-match drills, but they refused to shake hands.

Bengal captain Shukla later defended the decision. "If my boys don't want to shake hands after what all they did during the last two days, I can't blame them. As it is they were doing a cool-down exercise and told Kartik not to disturb them. If they want to shake hands, they should have waited," Shukla said.

Shukla then questioned Kartik's sportsman spirit,"Was it right on their part to continue playing when the match was over as a contest? We hear that a lot of players learn a lot of things sharing the dressing room with Sachin and Sourav... Leave it, I don't want to say anything more."

On his part Railways coach Abhay Sharma said that decision to continue was done to give Nitin Bhille, who is finding it hard to convert his starts into big scores, the chance to complete his century. "A first-class hundred is a milestone and we wanted him to get there. Also Dinda was bowling well, so it was a very competitive atmosphere. It was a well-contested game," Sharma said.