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December 18, 2008
Bengal 257 for 5 (Chakrabarty 75*, Ganguly 69*, Saha 54, Bandekar 4-51) v Goa
An old hand and a newcomer combined well for Bengal after a mid-innings wobble left them in a spot of bother against Goa on the first day of their Ranji Trophy Plate League semi-final at the Karnail Singh Stadium in Delhi. Robin D'Souza struck early for Goa after they decided to field, but Bengal fought back with a steady partnership between Anustup Majumdar and Wriddhiman Saha.
Majumdar and Saha took Bengal past the 100-mark. Saha, who got his career-best 159 in Bengal's previous game, scored 54 before he fell during a three-wicket burst from Saurabh Bandekar. Majumdar was also dismissed, for 39, as Bengal slipped for 101 for 1 to 105 for 4. Bandekar then added a fourth, that of Bengal captain Laxmi Shukla, to leave them at 127 for 4. However, Sourav Ganguly, the former India captain, made an impression in his first match since his international retirement at the end of the Test series against Australia. He scored a patient 146-ball 69, with seven fours and a six. At the other end, he got support from Dibyendu Chakrabarty, who scored his second half-century in as many innings at the first-class level.
The two put on an unbroken 130 for the sixth wicket, with Chakrabarty scoring 75 off 134 balls. The match is likely to be Ganguly's final first-class appearance. He was requested to return for the crucial knock-out fixture: Bengal's promotion back to the Super League hinges on the outcome of this match.
Himachal Pradesh 11 for 0 trail Madhya Pradesh 228 (Jalaj S Saxena 107, Thakur 4-40, Malik 4-73) by 217 runs
In Nagpur, Himachal Pradesh wrested the advantage on the first day against Madhya Pradesh. Things started brightly for Himachal Pradesh, with left-armer Ashok Thakur removing Himalaya Sagar in the first over. However, captain Hrishikesh Kanitkar's decision to bat seemed to be paying off. Kanitkar (23) and Jalaj S Saxena added 76 for the second wicket in 25.1 overs, and Devendra Bundela then played out 133 balls for his 32 in a 103-run stand with Saxena, who went on to score 107. However, Bundela's wicket triggered a collapse.
The last eight wickets fell for 48 runs; the best effort among the bottom six was 5. Saxena was bowled by Thakur; his century included 18 fours. Wicketkeeper Naman Ojha chipped in with 28, but the trio of Thakur, Malik and offspinner Sarandeep Singh brought the innings to a quick end. Thakur and Malik took four wickets apiece, while Sarandeep scalped the remaining two.
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