Bengal hold nerve in thrilling finale
Bengal 142 for 7 (Das 49, Saha 36, Amarjeet 3-39) beat Madhya Pradesh 141 for 8 (Harpeet 51, Murtaza 34, Dinda 2-37) by one run
Bengal and Madhya Pradesh served up a thrilling finale in Hyderabad, a game that was decided by one run to conclude the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. A quickfire 49 from Subhomoy Das, his 77-run recovery stand with wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, a collective bowling effort and greater control over their nerves gave Bengal the title.
Bengal, after being put in, were dealt some early strikes that slowed their progress in the first ten overs. Their top three struggled to find the boundary and were contained by some tight MP bowling. Opener Anustup Muzumdar made 24, but off 34 deliveries, and support from the other end was lacking. Seamer Amarjeet Singh kept Bengal in check with two wickets and a run-out within the first 11 overs, and at 54 for 4 MP had them in trouble.
That's when Das and Saha got together. Not only did they help their team recover, but did so in quick time by infusing the innings with some badly-needed urgency. Das struck five fours and two sixes while Saha struck three over the ropes in his cameo of 36. The pair batted eight overs together and steered their team to a competitive 142.
Captain Mohnish Mishra's onslaught in the chase threatened to shut out Bengal out of the game. He tore into the Bengal bowling early on and at 32 without loss in less than four overs, MP would have felt vulnerable. But periodic breakthroughs from there on, coupled with a loss in momentum due to some restrictive bowling, gave Bengal hope. By the end of the 12th over, MP were 85 for 4 and had lost another attacking batsman in Naman Ojha.
Harpreet Singh and Murtaza Ali, however, revived the innings in a 46-run stand that took their team within striking distance of their target. Harpreet paced his innings well to make 55 while Murtaza was more attacking, collecting 32 in 22 balls. At 131 for 4 with 10 balls to go, it was MP's game to lose and lose they did. Ashok Dinda removed Harpreet and Ankit Sharma off consecutive deliveries, and two run-outs in the final over - including one off the final ball with three runs required to win - sealed MP's fate.