Kolkata: Riding on an all-round show from Shami Ahmed, defending champions Bengal kept themselves in the hunt for a knock-out berth with a narrow three-wicket win over Jharkhand in their East Zone leg of the Vijay Hazare Trophy match at Eden Gardens on Monday.
Chasing 162 from 38 overs in a rain-curtailed match, Bengal were in trouble with 136 for seven in the 32nd over but Shami blasted 23 off only eight balls with three huge sixes and a boundary after having taken three wickets while bowling. Shami spanked Rohit Shukla for consecutive sixes before hitting the winning runs with another big hit in the 34th over.
Bengal now have eight points from two matches, behind leaders Assam (10) while Jharkhand (four) are placed third in the East Zone table. Put into bat after the match was delayed for two hours due to damp condition in the wicket, Jharkhand were bundled out for 161 in 37.2 overs.
Subroto Ghosh (40) gave Jharkhand a good start but the middle-order could not capitalise on the start with a tidy bowling from the trio of Shami, Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Iresh Saxena who claimed three apiece. No 7 Kumar Deobrat repaired the damage with a 68-ball 45 (3x4, 1x6) as they recovered from 102 for seven before being bundled out in the 37.2 overs.
In reply, Bengal once again had a jittery start as their experiment of opening with Saurashish Lahiri (5) failing yet again while the top-order also could not contribute to be reduced to 29 for three. Wriddhiman Saha (37) put on a bravefront taking the team closer to target but left-arm medium pacer Jaskaran Singh (3/38) kept Jharkhand in the hunt reducing Bengal to 136 for seven in the 32nd over.
With 37 required from 26 balls, Shami shattered Jharkhand's hopes as he charged on Rahul Shukla in the 32nd over that yielded 16 runs. Shami finished it in style with a winning six of Jharkhand skipper Shahbaz Nadeem in the next over. "The India stint has boosted my confidence and I was happy to contribute to with the bat today," Shami said.
In the other match, Rakesh Mohanty put up an allround show to help Odisha beat Tripura by four wickets for their first victory in the East Zone leg encounter of the Vijay Hazare Trophy here on Monday. Put into bat at the Jadavpur ground in Saltlake, Tripura were skittled out for 165 in 45.4 overs with off-spinner Rakesh and skipper Biplab Samantray taking two wickets each.
Chasing the paltry target, Odisha batsmen put up yet another listless display to be reduced to 87 for five in the 24th over. Rakesh then steadied the batting with a Lagnajit Samal (33 not out) as they put up 51-run for the sixth wicket before the latter got out.
But Rakesh remained unbeaten on 42 (3x4, 1x6) to hand Tripura their third successive loss. Odisha now have three points with their maiden win but their chances to qualify for the knock-outs appear bleak as they lie on fourth spot ahead of bottom-rung Tripura (-1 point).
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