Bose blitz gives Bengal the upper hand
Goa 95 for 5 (Desai 43*, Bose 5-33) trail Bengal 337 (Chakrabarty 82, Ganguly 69, Sarkar 60, Saha 54, Bandekar 6-75) by 242 runs
On a day which saw the completion of two five-wicket hauls, Ranadeb Bose may have just shaded Saurabh Bandekar in terms of the importance. Bose's spell of 5 for 33 on the second day put Bengal in the driver's seat in their Ranji Trophy Plate League semi-final clash against Goa at the Karnail Singh Stadium in Delhi. He ripped through Goa's top order and had them reeling at 34 for 5 at one stage, after Sourav Sarkar took Bengal past the 300-mark in their first innings.
Resuming on 257 for 5, both not-out batsmen for Bengal, Sourav Ganguly and Dibyendu Chakrabarty, didn't stick around for too long. Ganguly was the first to go, dismissed by Harshad Gadekar off the second ball of the day, without adding to his overnight score of 69. Bandekar then had Ritam Kundu caught by Sagun Kamat to hand him his fifth wicket of the match.
When Kamat latched on to a chance from Chakrabarty off Gadekar, Bengal were 284 for 8. However, Sarkar held firm, even as Bandekar picked up his sixth wicket, bowling Ashok Dinda. A crucial 41-run partnership with Bose for the last wicket meant Bengal finished on 337. Sarkar eventually fell to Ryan Ninan, having scored 60 off 98 balls, which included eight boundaries and a six.
Goa were off to a disastrous start with Bose trapping Sagun Kamat leg-before with the third ball of the innings. In his next over, he bowled captain Swapnil Asnodkar for 1. Jagadeesh Arunkumar, who didn't play the previous league fixture against Himachal Pradesh, hit three boundaries, but was eventually undone by Bose for 16, with the score reading 27 for 3.
Ajay Ratra was the next to go, lbw in the second ball of Bose's next over. Bose struck with regular precision and finally ended Advait Katkar's resistance, having him caught behind after he had faced 37 balls for his 9.
However, Aniket Desai and Ninan ensured there was no further damage, seeing Goa through to 95 for 5 at stumps. Desai scored 43 off 71 balls, hitting six boundaries and a six, and appears to be Goa's only hope in their bid to avoid conceding a first-innings lead.
Bose said while the presence of Sourav Ganguly, playing his final first-class match, in the dressing room was "like oxygen", Bengal had to learn how to play without him. "Wriddhiman [Saha] , Anustup [Majumdar], Avik [Chowdhury] and Ashok are good players and they have it in them to take the team to the next level, taking the baton from Dada," Bose was quoted as saying in the Asian Age. "They will not let us feel his absence."
Himachal Pradesh 251 for 2 (Thakkar 111*, Indulkar 80) lead Madhya Pradesh 228 (Jalaj S Saxena 107, Thakur 4-40, Malik 4-73) by 23 runs
Opener Bhavin Thakkar was the star of the second day's play at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Ground in Nagpur. His unbeaten 111 put Himachal Pradesh in pole position in their semi-final match against Madhya Pradesh.
Resuming on their overnight score of 11 for 0, Himachal lost Sangram Singh in the fifth over of the day, caught behind by Naman Ojha off Sanjay Pandey for 6. However, there was little cheer for Madhya Pradesh from then on, with Vinit Indulkar and Thakkar putting on 154 runs for the second wicket. Both batsmen looked in control, and slowly but surely put Himachal in a commanding position.
Indulkar had reached 80, which included 13 boundaries, when Madhya's Pradesh's batting hero Jalaj S Saxena struck by having him caught behind. Thakkar however, continued the good work and soon brought up his hundred. A 76-run partnership with Mukesh Sharma (38 not out) followed as Himachal took the all-important first-innings lead. It was slow going for Thakkar: he faced 304 balls for his knock, with a strike-rate of 36.51.