Bengal booked themselves a place in the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2016-17 final with a 41-run win against Jharkhand at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium. Put in to bat by MS Dhoni, Shreevats Goswami (101 off 99) and AR Eswaran (101 off 121) set up the stage for a formidable target with a 198-run opening stand. While both openers scored centuries, Pragyan Ojha (5/71) and Co. helped defend the 329-run total in a hard-fought game.
After biding their time in the middle, the Bengal openers milked the Varun Aaron-led attack to set the tone for the innings. Having taken the measure of the situation, Goswami took the attack to the bowlers. While his half-century came-up off 60 balls, his next 50 runs came off 36 deliveries. Monu Kumar accounted for the opener to end the flourishing partnership. After adding 31 runs to the tally with Manoj Tiwary, Eswaran was run out by Pratyush Singh leaving the team on 229 for two in the 40th overs.
Kanishk Sheth then provided Bengal with the first breakthrough with the wicket of Pratyush with 26 runs on the board. A bit later Sayan Gosh followed up with the wicket of Virat Singh while Sheth claimed Kumar Deobrat to leave Jharkhand on 99 for three.
Dhoni then joined forces with Saurabh Tiwary. The pair had added 54 runs for the fourth wicket until Ashoke Dinda dismantled Saurabh’s stumps. With the side on 153 for four at the end of 31 overs, Ishank Jaggi joined his captain in fighting the uphill task. Batting at a brisk pace, the pair took the attack to the bowlers.
The Dhoni-Jaggi partnership added 97 runs to the total until Ojha castled Dhoni to tip the balance further in Bengal’s favour. The skipper returned to the pavilion for 70 off 62 which comprised four sixes and two boundaries. In the next over, Jaggi was trapped lbw by Gosh leaving the team on 258 for six. With 72 runs required off 32 balls, it was an improbable task and Ojha ran through lower-order. The spinner claimed four more wickets to finish with a five-for as he bowled Bengal to victory.