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Little excitement, Bengal in final

With a strong batting display, Bengal forced their way into the Ranji Trophy final.

india Updated: Jan 25, 2006 14:58 IST

ParasMhambreywas exchanging pleasantries with Baroda players after the match when he noticed the Bengal players posing for a group photo. Known to local scribes more for his solemnity than effervescence, the Bengal coach's leap to join the players belied that image of his.

The story of this Ranji Trophy semi-final was captured in that moment. Emotions are bound to cross limits when a team makes the final after 12 years and battling relegation a year back. Also, if it happens to be a man who left playing despite having a few years left in him to become a coach.

That apart, there was rarely a moment of excitement at Eden Gardens on Tuesday in this match which was over as a contest on the third day itself. Baroda avoided losing by an innings as their ninth-wicket pair survived for over 30 overs before bad light ended the match to the relief of all concerned.

As for personal landmarks, there was a century for Connor Williams, left-arm spinner Shivsagar Singh stopped one short of a five-wicket haul, while No. 10 batsman Shekhar Joshi remained unbeaten on zero after playing 100 balls. That the fielders clapped and he even raised his bat after completing a 50 explains how important the last day was.

Of things more serious in nature, Bengal continued to make scoring difficult for Baroda which showed they were not prepared to allow the opposition any solace. Even when they were eight down, there were not too many around the bat and the bowlers were not bowling an attacking line.

"There was no point going into an attacking overdrive because there was nothing in the wicket. And there is no point in giving them easy runs by setting an attacking field. This is first-class cricket where runs have to be earned. We ensured that they worked hard for them," said captain Deep Dasgupta.

Even then, bowling to a plan which makes taking wickets as difficult as scoring runs. For almost five sessions after knowing that the hard work wouldn't mean much since they were already in the final, couldn't have been easy. If not anything else, it needed intensity and focus, which can waver, when nothing much is in sight.

In this respect, the Bengal bowlers did a commendable job. " It gives positive vibes if you keep trying and follow a plan, irrespective of what is at stake. An outright win would have been good but we are not too disappointed because we tried our best," said Mhambrey.

"To be honest, I didn't expect that we would come this far, but I always thought Bengal had the talent. Apart from the known ones, we got contributions from youngsters at crucial times. Getting somebody or the other to deliver under pressure and the younger players taking responsibility have been the most satisfying aspect," said Mhambrey, who felt that being younger than most coaches has helped him communicate better.

Dasgupta said he needed time to start thinking of the final against Mohammed Kaif's Uttar Pradesh beginning in Lucknow on Sunday. " I don't have words to describe how it feels to be in the final. Let us enjoy this for a day. We will talk about the final after this sinks in."

He couldn't be blamed for saying this, after having led a team which showed loads of patience, determination and hunger to do well for five days. Once Dasgupta and his players let this sink in, they will probably start concentrating on the same virtues.

Baroda 1st innings: 241 Bengal 1st innings: 619 Baroda (2nd innings): Shah b Bose 13, Solanki b Shukla 10, Williams not out 135, Martin c Jhunjhunwala b Bose 34, Y K Pathan c A Jhunjhunwala b SS Singh 5, Bhoite c Shukla b SS Singh 14, R Pawar c Mondal b S S Singh 6, K Powar c Jhunjhunwala b SS Singh 6, Patel c and b Tiwari 2, Joshi not out 0, Extras -- b-17, lb-2, nb-8 -- 27) Total (for 8 wkts) 252 Fall of wkts: 1-19, 2-30, 3-114, 4123, 5-155, 6-172, 7-200, 8-205. Bowling: SS Paul 22-10-30-0, R Bose 21-4-54-2, LR Shukla 20-636-1, S Lahiri 21-4-32-0, SS Singh 36-11-66-4, M Tiwari 8-014-1, S Das 1-0-1-0, K H Mondal 1-1-0-0.

First Published: Jan 25, 2006 14:53 IST