Rajasthan-Bengal match ends in draw

Kolkata: Two-time defending champions Rajasthan had a disappointing start to their Ranji Trophy campaign, conceding three points to Bengal on the basis of first innings lead after the match ended in a draw on Monday.

Resuming at 109 for five, Bengal rode on a gritty 65 not out (96 balls, 9x4) by Wriddhiman Saha to declare at 232 for nine just before lunch and set Rajasthan an imposing target of 330 to win.

Saha along with another overnight not out batsman Laxmi Ratan Shukla (32) shared 55 runs between them to put Bengal on course.

Later, number 11 batsman Ashok Dinda played a cameo of 12-ball 17 not out with one six and two boundaries on the trot of off-spinner Madhur Khatri, who conceded 23 runs in his last over, before Bengal declared their first innings.

Chasing the tall target, Rajsthan had a wobbly start when Bengal pacer Ashok Dinda uprooted Ankit Lamba`s off-stump with a 150 kmph delivery with the score reading 13/1.

But unbeaten half-centuries by skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar (80 not out; 142b, 12x4) and Rashmi Ranjan Parida (52 not out; 89b, 7x4) saved Rajasthan the blushes by eking out a draw with one point to open with.

Bengal pressed for an outright win (six points) but Kanitkar and Parida remained together in an undefeated 99-run fourth wicket partnership before both captains agreed for a draw in the 52nd over.

The match was wide open on the penultimate day when Bengal slipped to 109 for five with two new batsmen in Saha and Shukla at the crease with an overall lead of 206.

But Saha and Shukla became Bengal`s saviour as they negotiated the crucial early morning session with Pankaj Singh and Rituraj Singh testing the duo`s patience with pace and bounce as the lead crossed 250.

After Shukla`s dismissal, Saha played sensibly with tail ender Veer Pratap Singh who faced 32 balls in his knock of three.

But his partnership with Dinda was most interesting as they attacked the Rajasthan bowlers taking the lead past 300 in the 70th over.

Saha struck consecutive boundaries off Khatri including a reverse sweep before rotating the strike to Dinda who matched his partner lifting one over the off-spinner before two consecutive boundaries in an over that read 4-4-1-6-4-4.

In their second essay, Rajasthan opener Ankit Lamba got a reprieve in the fifth ball when his thick edge was dropped by Tiwary at the first slip but only to be bowled by Dinda in a fine display of pace bowling.

Kanitkar and Parida had some anxious moments as Bengal kept attacking but the duo saw the day through ensuring a drab draw.

Brief Scores

Bengal 258 and 232/9 declared in 72 overs (Wriddhiman Saha 65 not out; Pankaj Singh 4/34).

Rajasthan 161 and 181 for 3 in 52 overs (Hrishikesh Kanitkar 80, Laxmi Ratan Shukla 2/20).

Match drawn: Bengal 3 points; Rajasthan 1 point.


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