Bengal Virtually Seal Semifinal Berth After Massive Lead Against Odisha
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Tangi: Bengal put up a strong batting display in their second essay to virtually seal a Ranji Trophy semifinal berth with a massive 443-run lead over Odisha in their last-eight clash here on Sunday.
At close on the penultimate day, Bengal were 361 for seven following half centuries from Shreevats Goswami (78), Abhishek Raman (67) and Shahbaz Ahmed’s unbeaten 52.
It was almost all over for Odisha as there was no sign of a declaration from Bengal, who already had secured three points by virtue of a first-innings lead to put one step into the semifinals.
Bengal batsmen showed patience and discipline to bat through the day and almost guaranteed their first last-four berth since 2017-18 when they lost to Delhi.
Overnight batsman Abhishek Raman played a patient knock to see through the early morning moisture after the departure of senior batsman Manoj Tiwary.
The in-form Tiwary, who slammed his maiden triple century this season, was dismissed for the second time in the match by Odisha pacer Debabarata Pradhan inside the first-hour’s play.
Tiwary was trapped in front with a sharp incoming delivery but that was the only bright spot for Odisha on the fourth day.
On a slow pitch with variable bounce, Raman showed amazing patience in the company of diminutive Bengal wicketkeeper-batsman Goswami, the duo adding 102 runs from 207 balls as Bengal’s lead inched towards 300.
Rookie all-rounder Ahmed, who has been the find for Bengal with a hat-trick and four half centuries this season, smashed Poddar for the first six of their innings.
Goswami then joined in the party, hitting Poddar for four boundaries in his next over, as Bengal made rapid progress in the final session.
Spinner Arnab Nandi also made it tough for the struggling Odisha bowlers with a quick 45 off 75 balls.
Bengal 332 and 361/7; 132 overs (Shreevats Goswami 78, Abhishek Raman 67, Arnab Nandi 45, Koushik Ghosh 41, Shahbaz Ahmed 52 batting ). Odisha 250.