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Merciless Bengal punish Orissa

Despite star batsman Sourav Ganguly's failure, Bengal crushed Orissa by 154 runs to emerge champions.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2006 01:03 IST

It was surprising to see Bengal open their batting with Deep Dasgupta and Subhomoy Das on Sunday morning. It was to some extent a do-or-die match for Bengal in the East Zone one-dayers and one would have wished that the former India skipper Sourav Ganguly, eyeing a comeback in the India one-day squad, would lead his state team's batting from the front.

But it was not to be and the spectators at the Digwadih Stadium, who turned out to be exclusive dada fans later, were deprived of a Debashis Mohanty-Ganguly battle.

But that didn't stop Bengal from recording a mammoth 154-run win over Orissa in the last match of the meet. And with a bonus point from this win, Bengal emerged champions with 14 points from four matches. Ganguly was stark by his absence in Bengal's celebrations.

Jharkhand advanced into the next round as the second team with 13 points after defeating Assam by 61 runs and earning a bonus point in the other match at the Nehru Stadium, Jealgora.

Orissa skipper Mohanty, by all means, is a spent force now and their other two frontline medium pacers Pritamjeet Das and Kuldeep Sharma are by no means class acts. And that was proved when Das and Dasgupta got Bengal off to a flier.

Sourav Ganguly came in at No 3, after Das (with run-a-ball 56) was caught brilliantly at backward point by RR Das off Sanjay Satpathy.

But by then, a wrong signal had already been sent. "We had decided that since the ball does a bit early on, I would open the innings with Subhomoy," Dasgupta said.

It was further accentuated when Ganguly failed to get to the double figures against a bowling attack that all the other Bengal batsmen, excepting Rohan Gavaskar, literally toyed with.

Orissa's left-arm seamer Pritamjeet's away-swinger just missed the outside edge of Ganguly's bat. He dabbed at the next ball and set off for a single but was rightly sent back by Dasgupta. Visibly uncomfortable, Ganguly edged the very next delivery to the keeper and departed. The flier Bengal got off to, looked like it would be undone.

But Dasgupta ensured that Bengal negotiated whatever early movement the bowlers got by playing the right foil to Das. The Bengal skipper got his 55 off 70 deliveries. Abhishek Jhunjhunwala scored 84 off 76 balls and Manoj Tewari hit 51 off 55.

Orissa's reply showed a lot of promise and openers BBCC Mohapatra and Haladhar Das raced to 53 off just 51 balls when the former, looking in ominous touch, was trapped in front by Shib Sankar Paul.

Das was caught by Sourashish Lahiri off Sanjib Sanyal. That was after Das had been dropped twice. Jhunjhunwala dropped a regulation one at backward point off Ranadeb Bose and on the second occasion Dasgupta lost his footing as the ball ballooned up and dropped just behind the stumps.

But from 102 for two in 17 overs, Orissa batting crumbled and the side was all out for 144 in just 30.2 overs. Sanjib Sanyal and Laxmi Ratan Shukla bagged three wickets each.

"I think the loss to Assam was a blessing in disguise," Dasgupta said. "It has jolted us to take things seriously and every body chipped in today. It was a great team effort."

Subhomoy Das was adjudged the Man of the Tournament for scoring 245 runs in the four matches. "I think today's 50 was more important for the team than the 100 against Jharkhand. The team was playing well then. But today we were coming back after a defeat," he said after collecting a cash prize of Rs 10,000, his first Man-of-the-Series award at the senior level.

Earlier, Rohan's inclusion in the playing XI meant someone had to be dropped. Bengal sacrificed the in-form Shib Sagar Singh. "We had decided to field first if we won the toss and so took a batsman (Subhojit Pal) as a supersub. And in any case the wicket looked seamer-friendly," Dasgupta said.

First Published: Feb 20, 2006 01:03 IST