Bengal v Maharashtra, Ranji Trophy semi-finals, Indore, 3rd day January 20, 2014

Maharashtra through to first Ranji final in 21 years

The Report by Karthik Krishnaswamy in Indore
29

Maharashtra 455 (Bawne 89, Atitkar 168) and 8 for 0 beat Bengal 114 (Fallah 7-58) and 348 (Saha 108, Fallah 3-110, Sanklecha 3-84, Joseph 3-80) by 10 wickets
Scorecard

Wriddhiman Saha made a defiant 108, added 160 in 117 balls with Bengal's nine, ten and jack, and left Maharashtra's seamers nursing bruised economy rates. But the day still belonged to Samad Fallah, Anupam Sanklecha, and Domnic Joseph.

Through the course of Maharashtra's first innings, the Holkar Stadium pitch seemed to have eased out entirely. But for the second time in the match, Fallah, Sanklecha and Joseph extracted considerable life out of it. Over the course of the first two sessions on the third day, they had reduced Bengal - who had begun their innings with a deficit of 341 - to 188 for 7, before Saha and the tail-enders averted innings defeat. Maharashtra, needing a mere eight runs to reach their first Ranji Trophy final in 21 years, got there in two overs.

Bengal had negotiated the morning session reasonably well to go to lunch on 116 for 3. They would have been happier, though, if Arindam Das was still at the crease. Das, who had put on 52 with Sudip Chatterjee for the third wicket, had moved to 34 when he pulled Sanklecha to Akshay Darekar at midwicket. Sanklecha had also taken the first wicket of the morning, trapping Abhimanyu Easwaran lbw with a fast, full inswinger.

The left-handed Chatterjee - who starts from a wide, Eoin Morgan-ish crouch - continued batting positively after Arindam's dismissal, driving Fallah confidently past cover before lunch and pulling him for another four soon after the interval, to move to 49. At this point, the left-arm seamer decided to come from around the wicket. In his next over, he got one to straighten a little and brush Chatterjee's inside-edge. Wicketkeeper Rohit Motwani, hurling himself to his right, dropped the catch, and added a sheepish voice to a bizarre lbw appeal from Maharashtra's fielders.

It didn't matter. Fallah angled his next ball across Chatterjee. The batsman shaped to let the ball go, decided against it, and poked at it, and Motwani gobbled up a far easier chance. It was Fallah's 200th first-class wicket.

Suddenly, the ball began to do things off the pitch. Domnic Joseph, a tall fifth-stump metronome, was getting it to keep low almost at will. He moved his line closer to the stumps, and a shooter narrowly missed Laxmi Ratan Shukla's off stump. Next ball, Joseph showed he didn't need eccentric bounce, getting the ball to cut in off the pitch and bowl Shukla through the gate.

Sanklecha, who replaced Joseph, struck immediately too, with a brute of a delivery that took off from a good length and kissed the shoulder of Sandipan Das' bat on its way to Motwani. Bengal were 163 for 6. Seven overs later, Joseph came on from the other end and trapped Saurasish Lahiri in front.

Sourav Sarkar, walking in at number nine, decided there was little to be gained by hanging around, and proceeded to clout Sanklecha over mid-on for two fours in one over. He then gave himself room to lift Fallah and left-arm spinner Akshay Darekar over the covers for two more fours. Going for another big hit off Darekar, he was caught at deep midwicket off a no-ball. Right after tea, he tried again, off a perfectly legal delivery from Darekar, and holed out to long-on.

At this point Saha - who had come in at the fall of the third wicket - had just moved into the 40s. He changed gear, smacking Sanklecha straight over his head for four and slashing Fallah over gully to reach 50. He celebrated the landmark by clubbing the next ball over the deep square leg boundary.

Ashok Dinda played with similar abandon, before Joseph had him caught-and-bowled, top-edging an attempted swat over midwicket. In walked the Falstaffian figure of Shib Paul. In the first innings, he had been bowled slogging at his first ball. Could Bengal's No. 11 take Saha from 75 to a century, and help Bengal score the 46 they needed to make Maharashtra bat again?

He could. Paul demonstrated a decent front-foot stride and a straight bat in defence, and a good eye in attack, striking three fours including a nonchalant flick, with upraised back leg, off Fallah. Saha, farming as much as he could of the strike, moved purposefully through the 80s and into the 90s. A straight six off Darekar took him to 96, and the remainder of the over brought a paddle sweep for two and a single to keep the strike.

In the next over, Saha tonked Joseph down the ground for four to bring up the century. The fielders converged for the final ball of the over. Saha spanked it past midwicket for four more to take Bengal into the lead.

It grew to seven before Darekar took the last wicket of the match, and the first by a spinner, Paul holing out to long-on. Saha was undefeated. His innings hadn't changed the fate of the semifinal, or even taken it to a fourth day, but it meant something that it had gone into a fourth innings. Bengal were without him for most of the season, and without Mohammed Shami and Manoj Tiwary for all of it. They had exceeded expectations to reach the semifinal. Now, even if it was too late, they had shown up.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on January 23, 2014, 21:36 GMT

    this time MAHARASTRA is going to be RANJI TROPHY champion.

  • Patties1984 on January 23, 2014, 9:28 GMT

    Well done Kedat Jadhav , hope your performances dont go unnoticed & hope you get a deserving call into the indian team ODI & TEST. All the best.

  • on January 21, 2014, 15:24 GMT

    @Prodigya: You are right. But Dhoni knows that too and that's why Saha is in the CSK team. Give him money but keep him on the bench!

  • on January 21, 2014, 14:16 GMT

    Well done, MH team! But KA will be a different proposition altogether (assuming KA is more or less in final already). And, we will see whether Falla is test match material or not. Of course, I wish him all the best.

  • Naresh28 on January 21, 2014, 9:11 GMT

    @prodigya - agree with you on Dhoni. We become a weakened team with Dhoni, jadeja and the tail. Half our test team dont play well while the other half works hard.

  • muzika_tchaikovskogo on January 21, 2014, 8:27 GMT

    Being from Maharashtra myself, I'm delighted that my state will be in the finals of the Ranji Trophy. Go Maharashtra Go!

  • ashes267 on January 21, 2014, 8:20 GMT

    kanitkar shud hv been for maharashtra .. mh needs him ..

    iqbal siddiquie was a military medium pacer thats y he cudnt secure his place . i dont why cannt we hv bowlers capable of generating 140-150 speeds .. umesh yadav is there but he is far wayward , not gud

  • Emancipator007 on January 21, 2014, 7:17 GMT

    @RajeshNaik, VancouverPunekar: Am a hardcore Mumbaikar (non-Maharashtrian) now out of the country. Used to studiously follow Maharashtra in 90s cos of their batting heavweights. Naik has forgotten another superb batsman-Milind Gunjal. This line-up of Bhave,Kinikar,Kale,Sugwekar,Gunjal,Jedhe (who was a superb all-rounder) had to be one of BEST ever in Ranji history (all averaging 40 plus, some 50!)rivaling batting lineups only of Mumbai (right thru its history), Delhi at its 80s' peak led by Mohinder Amarnath and Saurashtra/Kathiwar of early eras. I strongly feel Mumbai cricket's overwhelming dominance/sway over BCCI/Indian cricket (by right of course) dashed hopes of many India claimants. Bhave & Jedhe esp deserved some chances. Luckily India now (as against 80s/90s) plays a lot of matches in diff. formats & emergence of strong pan-India leader-captains like Dhoni/Ganguly has broadened chances/opportunities for all-India talent in Indian teams.

  • KC1977 on January 21, 2014, 7:15 GMT

    Its a proud feeling to see your team in Ranji trophy finals after so many years. Its been a tough journey all these years, and this year, this team has done it. For number of years, most of the players from Maharashtra are neglected in the national team, right from Raju Bhalekar, Milind Gunjal, Surendra Bhave, Shantanu Sugwekar, Shrikant Kalyani, Santosh Jedhe and many more. I am sure I m missing few more here. Now is the chance for this team to win the trophy under the leadership of Rohit Motwani and make name for them and prove that domestic cricket - Ranji Trophy - is far better than that Circus called IPL. Time for players like Kedar, Vijay, Samad, Harshad, Akshay, Ankit, Sangram to prove their metal and grab places in national team.

  • azeemparayil on January 21, 2014, 6:41 GMT

    congrats to maharashtra, they have done group c proud

  • on January 23, 2014, 21:36 GMT

    this time MAHARASTRA is going to be RANJI TROPHY champion.

  • Patties1984 on January 23, 2014, 9:28 GMT

    Well done Kedat Jadhav , hope your performances dont go unnoticed & hope you get a deserving call into the indian team ODI & TEST. All the best.

  • on January 21, 2014, 15:24 GMT

    @Prodigya: You are right. But Dhoni knows that too and that's why Saha is in the CSK team. Give him money but keep him on the bench!

  • on January 21, 2014, 14:16 GMT

    Well done, MH team! But KA will be a different proposition altogether (assuming KA is more or less in final already). And, we will see whether Falla is test match material or not. Of course, I wish him all the best.

  • Naresh28 on January 21, 2014, 9:11 GMT

    @prodigya - agree with you on Dhoni. We become a weakened team with Dhoni, jadeja and the tail. Half our test team dont play well while the other half works hard.

  • muzika_tchaikovskogo on January 21, 2014, 8:27 GMT

    Being from Maharashtra myself, I'm delighted that my state will be in the finals of the Ranji Trophy. Go Maharashtra Go!

  • ashes267 on January 21, 2014, 8:20 GMT

    kanitkar shud hv been for maharashtra .. mh needs him ..

    iqbal siddiquie was a military medium pacer thats y he cudnt secure his place . i dont why cannt we hv bowlers capable of generating 140-150 speeds .. umesh yadav is there but he is far wayward , not gud

  • Emancipator007 on January 21, 2014, 7:17 GMT

    @RajeshNaik, VancouverPunekar: Am a hardcore Mumbaikar (non-Maharashtrian) now out of the country. Used to studiously follow Maharashtra in 90s cos of their batting heavweights. Naik has forgotten another superb batsman-Milind Gunjal. This line-up of Bhave,Kinikar,Kale,Sugwekar,Gunjal,Jedhe (who was a superb all-rounder) had to be one of BEST ever in Ranji history (all averaging 40 plus, some 50!)rivaling batting lineups only of Mumbai (right thru its history), Delhi at its 80s' peak led by Mohinder Amarnath and Saurashtra/Kathiwar of early eras. I strongly feel Mumbai cricket's overwhelming dominance/sway over BCCI/Indian cricket (by right of course) dashed hopes of many India claimants. Bhave & Jedhe esp deserved some chances. Luckily India now (as against 80s/90s) plays a lot of matches in diff. formats & emergence of strong pan-India leader-captains like Dhoni/Ganguly has broadened chances/opportunities for all-India talent in Indian teams.

  • KC1977 on January 21, 2014, 7:15 GMT

    Its a proud feeling to see your team in Ranji trophy finals after so many years. Its been a tough journey all these years, and this year, this team has done it. For number of years, most of the players from Maharashtra are neglected in the national team, right from Raju Bhalekar, Milind Gunjal, Surendra Bhave, Shantanu Sugwekar, Shrikant Kalyani, Santosh Jedhe and many more. I am sure I m missing few more here. Now is the chance for this team to win the trophy under the leadership of Rohit Motwani and make name for them and prove that domestic cricket - Ranji Trophy - is far better than that Circus called IPL. Time for players like Kedar, Vijay, Samad, Harshad, Akshay, Ankit, Sangram to prove their metal and grab places in national team.

  • azeemparayil on January 21, 2014, 6:41 GMT

    congrats to maharashtra, they have done group c proud

  • SenG on January 21, 2014, 6:18 GMT

    Congratulation to maharastra for making it to India's premier and most prestigious trophy's final. Well done guys.. without any so called STARs.. the localities performed really well... all the best wishes for the coming final...

  • Rodc on January 21, 2014, 4:28 GMT

    Its being a long wait,finally we are there and the man who mentored them is one of the best batsman of maharashtra,surendra bhave he could not represent India so also lot of other players of his generation but may be things might change now.

  • on January 21, 2014, 0:05 GMT

    Having 3 teams for one state Maharashtra makes life very difficult. Mumbai being a metro city always ends up attracting and generating more and more talent. Whereas Maharashtra and Vidarbha has very limited choice of talent. Considering those facts, very well played Maharashtra. Hope to see Zol and Jadhav in Indian team.

  • VancouverPunekar on January 20, 2014, 23:30 GMT

    @RajeshNaik Your post made me bit nostalgic. The opener named kinikar; his first name is Hemant. Iqbal Siddique did make it to the test team; hopefull falla does aswell...

    Good to see Mah doing well in as a unit in virtually all departments. I was awake until wee hours in the morning following this match. Was so frustrating to find even cricinfo not giving ball by ball updates. Had to tune in to the Pun-Kar semi-final just to get 30 min/hourly comments on this "other" match at Indore.

  • ProdigyA on January 20, 2014, 21:18 GMT

    Saha is technically much better than Dhoni. Drop Dhoni from tests and bring in Saha.

  • ashok16 on January 20, 2014, 19:46 GMT

    While I am not sure about Group C team deserving a place in the knockouts, Maharashtra has won two legitimate victories to get to the final. Their bowlers are interesting and the batting dependable. I am hoping for a final with Karnataka.

  • on January 20, 2014, 18:03 GMT

    Karnataka, Rajasthan and Maharashtra have proved that last year's performance is not necessarily a barometer of this year's results. Being a part of Plate or "c" group is perhaps an easier route to the semis and finals than facing the best teams in the land and losing on percentages. To me it appears an ultimate irony.

  • on January 20, 2014, 17:33 GMT

    Hearty congrats Maharashtra team.Being a Maharashtrian I am an ardent supporter of Maharashtra team since long. Maharashtra team reached finals of Ranji trophy in 1971 and 1993 but lost both times very narrowly. On both occasions players and supporters of Maharashtra team were highly disappointed as their dream of presenting the glittering Ranji Trophy to the Legendary figure of Maharashtra Cricket, Late Shri D. B. Deodhar. As of now Shri Deodhar is not alive,but Maharashtra team should put all their efforts in Final match and win the Ranji Trophy to be dedicated to the memory of Late Shri D.B. Deodhar,so that his soul will bless wholeheartedly to Maharashtra team from the Heaven!!!

  • on January 20, 2014, 17:07 GMT

    Happy to see Maharashtra do well considering the desperate financial conditions they are going through and it'll be no less than a fairytale if they manage to go past Karnataka / Punjab. They might have a movie made based on their efforts this season !!!

  • RajeshNaik on January 20, 2014, 17:00 GMT

    There you go. The team least expected to win the trophy is just one step away. I was working in Pune in the mid 90s and occasionally would go to watch the matches held at Pune. Those days it was all about Surendra Bhave, Santosh Jedhe, Shantanu Sugwekar, Hrushikesh Kanitkar and Abhijit Kale. They were the backbone of Maharashtra batting. There was that opener by the name Kinikar. I forgot his first name. Then there was Iqbal Siddiqui, just like the Falla of today. The performance of this team has brought back the memories of the matches I watched at Pune 20 years ago. All of a sudden this giant killer team looks menacing and Karnataka OR Punjab - better watch out.

  • on January 20, 2014, 16:55 GMT

    being Maharashtrian. .m feeling proud . . . this team is seriously good. Congrats to all players n especially coach. .who performed consistently n lived this dream. . m loving it. . go boys. . get the trophy home. .

  • on January 20, 2014, 16:47 GMT

    Congrats to the underdogs. They have proved everyone wrong by beating best of the best teams. They need pull up the socks for the final frontier which in all probability looks like its Karnataka.

  • jishubhai on January 20, 2014, 16:24 GMT

    Congrats Maharashtra and congrats to Bengal too. As a bengalee I feel proud for this team. You have shown a great team spirit with great performances. Keep this going for the next year. Win does not matter at all, we want to see this kind of performances. Ranji has become very exciting......

  • on January 20, 2014, 16:21 GMT

    I am for Maharastra to win the CUP after my team Mumbai did not make it. Come on guys go ahead and win the cup...

  • on January 20, 2014, 16:10 GMT

    this 2014 ranji trophy will win karnataka no dowt..

  • shri_sonar on January 20, 2014, 15:44 GMT

    They have done it, Maharashtra are through to the finals of Ranji Trophy, who would have believed it at the start of the season. Yes Bengal were without their icon players in Shami, Tiwary but still to reach the final of Ranji Trophy beating two of the finest teams in knockout stage of the tournament is an achievement of sorts for Maharashtra. No wonder 5 of the top 15 run getters this season are from this team and the bowling unit has also complimented the batsman nicely. Great to see Group C teams being given a shot at the knockouts (as not many agree). Hope they make it big in Final and keep the trophy in state of Maharashtra. GO Maharashtra GO!!!!!

  • TNAmarkFromIndia on January 20, 2014, 15:39 GMT

    Maharashtra is a perfect example of how far teamwork can get you. Nearly everyone has contributed for them in this season. If their top order failed, their middle order did the job. If the middle order failed too, the lower order managed to muster up enough resistance to put up a fighting total. 5 of the top 15 highest scorers of the season are from Maharashtra. In the knockouts, first it was Sanklecha and now Fallah that helped them skittle out the opposition to help them win the match. Their fielding has picked up considerably over the course of the tournament. Maharashtra deserves to be in the final and face the other top side in the tournament - Karnataka.

  • Al_Bundy1 on January 20, 2014, 15:27 GMT

    Samad Fallah looks like a very good swing bowler. He deserves a chance in the Indian team.

  • Sagarneel on January 20, 2014, 15:25 GMT

    Yes, they faltered badly in this game (and full credit to Maharashtra for this), however, this is a new look Bengal. I hope they retain the same set-up and bring back Arindam Ghosh from Railways for the next season. They were without their best batsman (Tiwari) and bowler (Shami) for the entire season, and the fact that they reached the semis shows how well the others contributed. While they might be missing Shami next year as well, as he will very much be a part of India's plans for all the formats, Tiwari certainly will boost the side. Shukla's leadership qualities are worth noting too, although he needs to be a better tactician. In a nutshell, a bright season awaiting for Bengal next year.

    As for Maharashtra, they look all set to win the Ranji trophy. This is a seriously good unit. Respect for the players, coaches and support staff.

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  • Sagarneel on January 20, 2014, 15:25 GMT

    Yes, they faltered badly in this game (and full credit to Maharashtra for this), however, this is a new look Bengal. I hope they retain the same set-up and bring back Arindam Ghosh from Railways for the next season. They were without their best batsman (Tiwari) and bowler (Shami) for the entire season, and the fact that they reached the semis shows how well the others contributed. While they might be missing Shami next year as well, as he will very much be a part of India's plans for all the formats, Tiwari certainly will boost the side. Shukla's leadership qualities are worth noting too, although he needs to be a better tactician. In a nutshell, a bright season awaiting for Bengal next year.

    As for Maharashtra, they look all set to win the Ranji trophy. This is a seriously good unit. Respect for the players, coaches and support staff.

  • Al_Bundy1 on January 20, 2014, 15:27 GMT

    Samad Fallah looks like a very good swing bowler. He deserves a chance in the Indian team.

  • TNAmarkFromIndia on January 20, 2014, 15:39 GMT

    Maharashtra is a perfect example of how far teamwork can get you. Nearly everyone has contributed for them in this season. If their top order failed, their middle order did the job. If the middle order failed too, the lower order managed to muster up enough resistance to put up a fighting total. 5 of the top 15 highest scorers of the season are from Maharashtra. In the knockouts, first it was Sanklecha and now Fallah that helped them skittle out the opposition to help them win the match. Their fielding has picked up considerably over the course of the tournament. Maharashtra deserves to be in the final and face the other top side in the tournament - Karnataka.

  • shri_sonar on January 20, 2014, 15:44 GMT

    They have done it, Maharashtra are through to the finals of Ranji Trophy, who would have believed it at the start of the season. Yes Bengal were without their icon players in Shami, Tiwary but still to reach the final of Ranji Trophy beating two of the finest teams in knockout stage of the tournament is an achievement of sorts for Maharashtra. No wonder 5 of the top 15 run getters this season are from this team and the bowling unit has also complimented the batsman nicely. Great to see Group C teams being given a shot at the knockouts (as not many agree). Hope they make it big in Final and keep the trophy in state of Maharashtra. GO Maharashtra GO!!!!!

  • on January 20, 2014, 16:10 GMT

    this 2014 ranji trophy will win karnataka no dowt..

  • on January 20, 2014, 16:21 GMT

    I am for Maharastra to win the CUP after my team Mumbai did not make it. Come on guys go ahead and win the cup...

  • jishubhai on January 20, 2014, 16:24 GMT

    Congrats Maharashtra and congrats to Bengal too. As a bengalee I feel proud for this team. You have shown a great team spirit with great performances. Keep this going for the next year. Win does not matter at all, we want to see this kind of performances. Ranji has become very exciting......

  • on January 20, 2014, 16:47 GMT

    Congrats to the underdogs. They have proved everyone wrong by beating best of the best teams. They need pull up the socks for the final frontier which in all probability looks like its Karnataka.

  • on January 20, 2014, 16:55 GMT

    being Maharashtrian. .m feeling proud . . . this team is seriously good. Congrats to all players n especially coach. .who performed consistently n lived this dream. . m loving it. . go boys. . get the trophy home. .

  • RajeshNaik on January 20, 2014, 17:00 GMT

    There you go. The team least expected to win the trophy is just one step away. I was working in Pune in the mid 90s and occasionally would go to watch the matches held at Pune. Those days it was all about Surendra Bhave, Santosh Jedhe, Shantanu Sugwekar, Hrushikesh Kanitkar and Abhijit Kale. They were the backbone of Maharashtra batting. There was that opener by the name Kinikar. I forgot his first name. Then there was Iqbal Siddiqui, just like the Falla of today. The performance of this team has brought back the memories of the matches I watched at Pune 20 years ago. All of a sudden this giant killer team looks menacing and Karnataka OR Punjab - better watch out.