Kolkata: Ritwik Roy Chowdhury struck an unbeaten fifty under pressure on his Ranji debut while Akash Deep claimed six wickets as Bengal snatched three points against Gujarat in their rain-affected group A fixture on Monday.
Making his debut in place of the out-of-form Sudip Chatterjee, the 24-year-old showed both aggression and composure on way to his 53 not out from 67 balls (7x4, 1x6), as Bengal took the first innings lead in the final session of the concluding day.
It was rising Bengal pacer Akash Deep who had set the tone with a six-wicket haul in his second Ranji appearance to bowl out Gujarat for 194 inside the first-hour's play on the final day.
Left with little time, Bengal had a shaky beginning and skipper Abhimanyu Easwaran (42) could not convert his start, while the senior-most Manoj Tiwary (37) departed at 137 for four.
Batting at number six, Ritwik stitched an important 48-run partnership with Shreevats Goswami (29), but it was number eight Shahbaz Ahmed (27 not out) who extended the helping hand to ensure the lead.
"I was really in the zone, played with a lot of intent, it's about striking the right balance. I put in a lot of thought on how I wanted to bat. It paid off. It was very much expected. They threw at me and I was ready for it," Ritwik said.
Rain had washed out the first day's play while the match was truncated on both the second and third days before Gujarat resumed on 169 for seven.
The 23-year-old Akash Deep, who was adjudged Man of the Match, ran through the tail en route to impressive figures of 6/60 from 18.3 overs.
Bengal's last match, against Andhra, too was affected by the weather.
"Weather has denied us some points. But I'm feeling good about the team. Under the circumstances, we are happy to get three points. In both the games we were sitting pretty in the game we should have got six in one of them.
"Unfortunately you cannot do anything about the weather. But the team is in a roll. They are playing well, looking good. The belief is there," Bengal coach and mentor Arun Lal said.
Showering praise on Akash Deep and Ritwik, he said: "As a coach I can't ask for anything more. New stars are born. Bengal will look as a force as good as any other team in a couple of years with these youngsters doing well."
Gujarat 194. Bengal 239/5; 65 overs (Ritwik Roy Chowdhury 53 not out, Abhimanyu Easwaran 42; Roosh Kalaria 3/66). Match drawn. Points: Bengal 3, Gujarat 1.
Tamil Nadu earn 3 points from drawn game against UP
Kanpur: Tamil Nadu grabbed three points on the basis of their first innings lead after their Elite Group B match in the Ranji Trophy against Uttar Pradesh ended in a draw on Monday.
The game was evenly poised when UP resumed the fourth and final day at the Green Park Stadium at 170 for 9, needing 11 more runs to overhaul Tamil Nadu's first innings total.
In their second essay, UP left-arm orthodox spinner Saurabh Kumar (5-39) spun a web around the TN batsmen as the visitors collapsed to 154 all out.
For the southern side, two-down Baba Aparajith (53) scored a half century, while captain Vijay Shankar (28) was the second highest run-scorer.
Other batsmen, including openers V Ganga Sridhar (1) and L Suryapprakash (2), failed as UP bowlers wrecked havoc.
Kumar was ably supported by Rajpoot (3-39) and off- spinner Rinku Singh (2-11).
UP were set an ambitious 160-run target for an outright victory. UP openers Rinku Singh (27) and Almas Shaukat (14 not out) added 41 runs for the first wicket before Natarajan sent back the former.
Natarajan also dismissed one-down Mohammed Saif (0) in the same over. However, bad light stopped play, bringing the proceedings to a close.
TN picked up three points for securing the innings lead for the first time this season. Uttar Pradesh had to be content with a solitary point.
Meanwhile at Dharamshala, the Madhya Pradesh versus Himachal Pradesh game ended in a draw with the former earning three points courtesy their first-innings lead. HP had to be content with a lone point.
In the next round, TN take on domestic heavyweights Mumbai in Chennai from 11 January, while UP play Baroda in Kanpur.
Brief scores: At Kanpur: Tamil Nadu 180 and 154 (B Aparajith 53, Saurabh Kumar 5-39) vs Uttar Pradesh 175 (Mohammed Saif 77; T Natarajan 4-24) and 42/2. Match Drawn. TN took first innings lead. TN: 3 points, UP: 1 point.
At Dharamshala: Himachal Pradesh 175 and 185/5 (A Kalsi 115, A Vashisht 84; Kuldeep Sen 2-66) vs Madhya Pradesh 427/9 declared. Match drawn. MP took first innings lead. MP: 3 points, HP: 1 point.
Jammu and Kashmir secure big win over Jharkhand
Ranchi: Left-arm medium-pacer Abid Mushtaq took five wickets as Jammu and Kashmir defeated Jharkhand by an innings and 27 runs in a Ranji Trophy Group C match on Monday.
Resuming on overnight 103 for four on the final day, Jharkhand lost six wickets for 52 runs in 26.4 overs to taste their first defeat in four matches.
The experienced Ishank Jaggi (34, 96 balls, 2 fours) defied the J&K attack on the final day but the others, including the talented Ishan Kishan (8, 28 balls, 1 four) and Virat Singh (1), didn't rise to the occasion.
Mohammed Mudhasir provided the breakthrough by removing Virat Singh.
Kishan and Jaggi resisted for eight overs before the two were dismissed in the space of three runs by Umar Nazir and Aquib Nabi respectively.
Nabi then removed Rahul Prasad (6), Shahbaz Nadeem (9) and Varun Aaron (0) to finish things off for Jammu and Kashmir.
J&K improved their tally to 20 points from four matches while Jharkhand are on 16 points.
In another match, Haryana beat Chhattisgarh by 89 runs in Raipur to take their points tally to 21.
Odisha conceded the first innings lead to Tripura in Agartala but are on top of Group C with 22 points from for games.
Brief scores: Jharkhand 259 and 155 all out in 54.4 overs (Mohammed Nazim 37, Ishank Jaggi 34; Aquib Nasbi 5/38) lost to J&K 441 all out in 87.4 overs (Abdul Samad 128, Suryansh Raina 76, Abid Mushtaq 50; Varun Aaron 3/69, Ashish Kumar 3/102) by an innings and 27 runs. J&K: 7 points, Jharkhand: 0.
At Raipur: Haryana 123 and 258 all out in 72.4 overs (NR Saini 55, SR Chauhan 42; Veer Pratap Singh 4/49, Vishal Singh 3/38) beat Chhattisgarh: 119 all out in 35.1 overs (Vishal Singh 45 not out, Jiwanjot Singh 24; AK Chahal 5/25, Harshal V Patel 4/40) and 173 all out in 50.5 overs (Avnish Singh 69, Amandeep Khare 38; S P Kumar 3/24) by 89 runs. Haryana: 6 points, Chhattisgarh: 0.
At Agartala: Tripura 288 for 6 declared in 82 overs (Milind 105 not out, M B Mura Singh 72, S M Singha 65; Rajesh Mohanty 3/78) drew with Odisha 121 all out in 40.2 overs (Biplab Samantaray 51; Rana Dutta 5/23, M B Mura Singh 3/36) and 71 for 1 in 22 overs (Govinda Poddar 33 not out). Tripura: 3 points, Odisha: 1.
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