Shukla smashes 96-ball-151 as Bengal register comfortable win

Kolkata: Laxmi Ratan Shukla butchered the Jharkhand bowling to smash a magnificent 151 off only 96 balls as Bengal cantered home to an seven-wicket win over defending champions Jharkhand in an East Zone leg match of the National One Day Championship for the Vijay Hazare Trophy.

Chasing an imposing target of 281, the Shukla blitzkrieg led to Bengal finishing the match in only 38.1 overs maintaining a run-rate of 7.38 per over.

The former Bengal skipper, promoted at No 3, hit 16 fours and eight sixes -- mostly off left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem and a few off seamer Jaskaran Singh. He charge down and hit the left-arm spinner inside-out into the gallery.

Shukla, who was promoted up the order, showed his big-hitting prowess as he cleared the ropes at will. Even the early dismissal of Sourav Ganguly (1) didn`t stop him from playing his natural game. Often known to throw his wicket away, Shukla reached his third List A ton in 70 balls with help of 11 fours and five sixes.

The win also ensured second bonus point for Bengal as they now have 10 points from two matches look like easing their way through to the knok-out stages of the tournament.

Bengal captain Sourav Ganguly opted to field and his new-ball bowler Mohammed Shami Ahmed immediately provided double breakthrough dismissing Subroto Ghosh (5) and Aakash Verma (5). However Ishank Jaggi (129, 11x4, 3x6) and skipper Saurabh Tiwary (47) added 124 runs for the third-wicket.

Shami was clobbered during his second spell as he had figures of four for 86.

Jharkhand`s total looked imposing but Shukla and India`s Test specialist Wriddhiman Saha (55 no, 60 balls, 4x4, 1x6) added 123 runs in only 13.5 overs to clinch the issue.

Once Shukla was out, Wriddhiman and another in-form batsman Anushtup Majumdar (37 no, 31 balls, 5x4) kept the momentum going adding 74 runs in 7.4 overs to finish off the match.

Brief Scores: Jharkhand 280/6 (I Jaggi 129, Md Shami Ahmed 4/86). Bengal 282/3 in 38.1 overs (LR Shukla 151, W Saha 55 no). Bengal won by 7 wkts. Pts: Bengal 5; Jharkhand -1.