IN AN absorbing final, favourites Arera Academy today edged out Bilaspur by three wickets and lifted the prestigious sixth Manish Agnihotri All-India Cricket Tournament trophy at Old Campion Grounds.
Expectedly, a sizeable crowd reached the venue to witness the final. Arera Academy skipper J P Yadav lost the toss for the third time in a row and was forced to field first.
Bilaspur openers Apoorva Bhandari and P Vivek negotiated the Arera bowling with comfort. They scored freely and put up the highest first-wicket partnership of the tournament — 123.
Vivek, the only centurion of the tournament, scored the highest 61 runs. Bhandari, who was Man of the Match for the team in two matches, also had no problems in scoring runs. He contributed 53. After their departure, rest of the team also played well.
Skipper Santosh Sahu and Kranti Verma were the other important contributors to the team’s total. They scored 40 runs each. With the help of fine batting, the visitors set a competitive 250-run target for Arera.
For Arera, left-arm spinner Premal Jain claimed three wickets, which was his best in the tournament. Nishant scalped two wickets. Chasing the target, hero of the last two matches, J P Yadav, failed to repeat his performance.
He lost his wicket scoring just 10 runs. Appearing to bat for the first time in the tournament, Duleep Trophy team member Brijesh Tomar ‘Omi’ and Nishant Bhatnagar took the responsibility of bailing out the team from the precarious situation, as the team had lost three wickets with only 25 runs on board. While Nishant scored a quick-fire 36, the experienced Brijesh collected runs in singles and doubles.
The two batsmen brought the team back into the match by putting up a crucial partnership of 112 runs. When the team needed just nine runs to win, four wickets fell in quick succession and creating a scare for the Arera team. The team tottered at 245 for the loss of seven wickets. However, thanks to the boundary hit by Ankit to the mid-wicket, the Arera team won the match by three wickets.
Chief guest of the closing ceremony, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, speaking on the occasion, said that State Government is committed to promote sports activities. He assured to enhance the sports budget allocation in the next fiscal. He distributed prizes to the teams.
The winner team was awarded a trophy and Rs 51,000 in cash. On the occasion, Minister of State for Home Nagendra Singh, BDCA president Dhruv Narayan Singh, Director Sports Sanjay Chaudhary, MP Builders Association president Dilip Suryavanshi, BDCA vice president Aruneshwar Singhdeo, MPCA vice president Dr Shafquat Mohammad Khan, Hamidullah Khan ‘Mamu’, organising committee convenor J P Tyagi, Rajesh Agnihotri, Abhay Goswami, Manish Chandorkar, C S Dhakad, Rajat Mohan Verma, Vijesh Lunawat, Dr Rajesh Sharma, Rakesh Malik, Sushil Singh and others were present.
HEARTENED BY the overwhelming response to the tournament, organising committee convenors J P Tyagi and Rajesh Agnihotri said that the committee is planning to arrange the telecast of the tournament on any national electronic media from the next year. “The plan is being considered to arrange telecast of the tournament on national channel from the next year”, said Tyagi.
Man of the final match: Brijesh Tomar
Man of the series: J P Yadav
Best bowler: Dinesh Yadav
Best Batsman: P Vivek