Young Suraj skipped school on the last three days. He was busy operating the scoreboard at Green Park Stadium, the venue of the Ranji Trophy match between Uttar Pradesh and Bengal.
With every run being scored by the UP batsmen on the penultimate day of the four-day match, Suraj was jumping and shouting.
Such support was enough to encourage the UP batsmen to a thrilling three-wicket and well-deserved victory on a pitch where handling the medium-pacers was difficult and required patience.
The win also helped the three-time finalists and last year’s runners-up reach the quarter-finals with 18 points from six matches. Bengal stay on eight after five.
It was skipper Mohammed Kaif and UP’s Mr Dependable Parvinder, who laid a solid foundation for the victory, adding 91 invaluable runs for the fourth-wicket. Parvinder’s 62 was studded with 10 fours, while Kaif made 41 with the help of six boundaries.
Even after losing Shivakant Shukla on the last ball of the day’s first over bowled by Bose, Kaif and Parvinder did well against a well-organised pace attack, keeping the scoreboard ticking with ones and twos and the occasional boundaries.
With the two stroking the ball well, Bengal skipper Shukla tried everything he could, by bringing on Ganguly and the spinners for a while. Kaif was gone before lunch and Parvinder soon after, but the 55-ball sixth wicket partnership of 43 between Bhuvaneshwar and Chawla dashed Bengal’s hopes.
There was a window of hope for them after the duo’s departure but Gupta’s powerful blows ended the thrilling contest.