Defending a modest 137 runs, bowlers took Rajasthan to a 14-run win in their Group B match of the T20 Super League for the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy in Mumbai. After their batsmen posted a modest total on the board, the Rajasthan bowlers struck at regular intervals and kept the flow of runs in check to keep the match hanging in balance. Gajendra Singh claimed three vital wickets in the latter half of the innings to keep Rajasthan in the fray. Holding their nerve as the game progressed, they kept Bengal down to 123 for seven to claim victory.
Earlier, opting to field first, Bengal got their first breakthrough as early as the third over. Sourav Mondal dislodged Surya Prakash Suwalka’s bails to leave Rajasthan on nine for one. Divya Pratap Singh then joined Ankit Lamba, and the pair chipped away at the Bengal bowling to add 59 runs for the second wicket. After surviving a half-chance early in his innings, DP Singh helped lay a platform for the innings. In the most expensive over of the first half of the innings, he smashed two boundaries off Sanjib Sanyal to collect 15 runs off the over. Couple of overs later, the opener hit another straight six off Aamir Gani. The pair brought up the team’s 50 as they inched forward. With the team on 68, Divya Pratap Singh was caught at long-off off Sandipan Das. The wicket triggered a mini-collapse.
Aditya Lamba was caught at mid-on off Saurashish Lahiri off the first ball of the next over, while Puneet Yadav was caught at midwicket. With the off-spinner on a hattrick, Rajesh Bishnoi took a single to mid-wicket. But off the fourth ball of the over, Naresh Ghelot was caught by Lahiri off his own bowling. With four wickets in a span of five balls, Rajasthan were left on 69 for five.
Aditya Garhwal then joined the captain in the middle as Rajasthan looked to set the opposition a challenging target. In Lahiri’s next over, Bishnoi clobbered the bowler for two boundaries and a six to collect 20 runs off it. Although the flow of runs had increased, wickets too continued to fall at regular intervals as the batsmen perished taking the aerial route in an attempt to help accelerate the run rate. Garhwal returned for 20, while Deepak Chahar who replaced him, was sent back for a duck by Sanyal.
With the team on 110 for seven, Rituraj Singh came to the crease, but was bowled by Mondol for four in the 19th over. Bishnoi was the last to depart in the final over of the innings. With the team on 130, he was caught at mid-on off Sanyal. Gajendra Singh and Aniket Choudhary added seven runs off the last five balls to take the team to 137 for nine.
Chasing the modest score, Bengal’s openers put together 37 runs, until Shreevats Goswami was castled by Rituraj Singh. Carrying the innings forward, Vivek Singh, along with Sudip Chatterjee, struck Aniket Choudhary to the long-off boundary in the next over. 14 runs later, Garhwal sent back Chatterjee to leave the opposition on 51 for two. However, Vivek Singh held up one end continued to garner runs. He sent Puneet Yadav sailing over long-on to collect six in the next over. However, two runs short of his half-century, he was caught at the fence by Chahar. With a wicket off his first ball, Gajendra Singh provided his team with a vital breakthrough to leave Bengal on 71 for three.
With 67 runs required and the team comfortably placed, Pankaj Shaw joined Arnab Nandi in the middle to ease the team towards the target. The pair kept the scoreboard ticking, but with the team on 95, Pankaj Shaw was sent back Gajendra Singh. Then, Nandi struck the next delivery back to the bowler. Facing the hat-trick ball, Sandipan Das denied the bowler the milestone.
At 95 for five, Bengal had two new batsmen - Sanyal and Das - at the crease. The pair took the team to the three-figure mark. But while looking to sneak in a single, Das was run out. With six wickets gone and Bengal needing 38 runs off 19 balls, the match was precariously poised. Striking at crucial moments, Rajasthan kept themselves in the hunt.
Then, with 30 runs needed off the last two overs, Sanyal pulled Rituraj to the boundary, but the bowler followed up with two dot balls. Looking for the big shot, Mondol perished leaving Bengal on 113 for seven. Rajasthan then seized the momentum and pulled off a victory.