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Bengal fall at final post

Tamil Nadu ended their four-year wait for a title on Monday by winning the national one-day championship. Their 66-run win extended Bengal's disappointment of losing in the finals to four straight years. Atreyo Mukhopadhyay reports.

cricket Updated: Mar 10, 2009 00:25 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Hindustan Times

Tamil Nadu ended their four-year wait for a title on Monday by winning the national one-day championship. Their 66-run win extended Bengal's disappointment of losing in the finals to four straight years. This was Tamil Nadu's first triumph after sharing the title with Uttar Pradesh in 2004-05.

There was surprise in the form of a pitch which was on the slower side but remained good for batting throughout, offering less turn than expected. Tamil Nadu won the toss and exploited the conditions to get what was by far the biggest total at Maharaja Bir Bikram Stadium in this competition. Opener Abhinav Mukund anchored the innings and S. Suresh Kumar's late burst gave it a formidable look.

Bengal were in it at 131 for three after 25 overs but had probably lost a wicket too many. Manoj Tiwary and Laxmi Ratan Shukla added 43 off 41 when the latter got run out. It practically ended in the 36th over when Tiwary became the seventh batsman to fall at 179. It was another instance of Bengal's hopes revolving around Tiwary and ending with his departure.

Bengal's new-ball bowlers allowed too much room and the Tamil Nadu openers were quick to pounce on them. S. Aniruddha was more aggressive and fell after getting a start as did some of his other teammates. There was only one score above 50 but they still reached 284 because the man who got it stayed till the 46th over. Mukund didn't indulge in antics and his batting was based mainly on conventional methods. A maiden limited-over hundred (118 off 140, 12x4, 1x6) was just reward for his perseverance and aptitude.

Mukund laid the platform and Suresh Kumar (41 off 18, 1x4, 4x6) helped the team smack 52 in the last five overs. All the Bengal bowlers barring Iresh Saxena were ordinary.

Bengal did well to look good at the halfway stage after a slow start caused by two early blows. Tiwary revived the innings which got momentum after the entry of Shukla. But the pace the skipper had set was difficult to maintain and the extra adrenaline led to a mix-up that derailed the chase.

Reasons to savour one-day meet

With the top India cricketers in New Zealand and the selectors not scheduled to meet in the immediate future, there could have been a question mark over the significance of the national one-day championship. But it turned out to be a success.

The first reason is obvious. Irrespective of media interest or fan following, every domestic match is important. That's because apart from pride, the players know that performance would be rewarded in some form sometime. The second reason was Tripura's praiseworthy performance despite being first-time hosts of a big domestic competition.

There was the odd complaint about hotels, but the organisers made sure that the practice facilities or quality of the outfield matched national standards. The pitch at the main stadium was a problem but the people concerned worked hard to make it worthy of a final.

Getting international matches is still a long way but this state capital can certainly draw confidence from how it hosted this meet.

Past winners

2005-06 Railways
2006-07 Mumbai
2007-08 Saurashtra

Tamil Nadu: Mukund c Saxena b Dinda 118, Aniruddha c Saxena b Dinda 26, Badrinath c Tiwary b Mukherjee 30, Karthik lbw Saxena 2, Vidyut b Bose 38, S Kumar not out 41, Ashwin b Dinda 1, Ganapathi not out 4; Extras (b-5, lb-9, w-10) 24; Total (6 wkts in 50 overs) 284; Fall of wkts: 1-46, 2-123, 3-138, 4-233, 5-240, 6-253; Bowling: Bose 8-0-52-1, Dinda 10-0-52-3, Mukherjee 10-1-42-1, Saxena 8-0-31-1;Bengal: Saha b Ashwin 31, Goswami b Sudheesh 9, Das lbw
Sudheesh 1, Tiwary b Yo Mahesh 76, Shukla run out 26, Chakraborty lbw Ashwin 3, Chowdhury c Sushil b Sudheesh 6, Mukherjee not out 21, Dinda b Suresh Kumar 1, Bose b Vidyut 17, Saxena lbw Ashwin 4; Extras (b-4, lb-3, w-16) 23; Total (all out in 45.2 overs) 218; Fall of wkts: 1-14, 2-18, 3-92, 4-135, 5-144, 6-161, 7-179, 8-180, 9-207; Bowling: Sudheesh 9-0-55-3, Mahesh 9-0-40-1, Ashwin 9.2-1-25-3, Vidyut 4-0-27-1, Kumar 5-0-23-1.

First Published: Mar 10, 2009 00:23 IST