Cuttack: Wriddhiman Saha roared back to form with a blistering 62-ball-129 as Bengal beat Arunachal Pradesh by 107 runs in a group D league match of the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament in Cuttack on Wednesday.
Saha plundered the hapless Arunachal bowlers into submission en route his highest score in T20 cricket, hitting 16 boundaries and four sixes, helping Bengal post a mamoth 234 for 6.
Arunachal never had the ammunition to chase down the target and reached 127 for 4 in their stipulated 20 overs.
The match was all about Saha, who opened the innings after a string of low scores — 2, 3, 6 and 11 in the previous four games.
While he is coming after an nine-month lay-off following a shoulder surgery, the innings would give him a lot of confidence ahead of the Indian Premier League (IPL) even though the standard of bowling was sub-par.
This was his second century in the shortest format after 114 for Kings XI Punjab in the in the IPL 2014 final in Bengaluru, which Kolkata Knight Riders won.
"The ploy of pushing Wriddhi up the order worked. He need to get some time at the crease and look what a gem he delivered. Fantastic innings. The late surge also helped," Bengal skipper Manoj Tiwary hailed.
Bengal also promoted Ritwik Chowdhury to open, dropping in-form Shreevats Goswami at No 5 as the opening duo put on 37 runs in 19 balls.
Skipper Tiwary continued his poor form and departed for two as Saha forged a partnership with young vice-captain Abhimanyu Easwaran (31), the duo adding 96 quick runs in just 51 balls.
Lower down the order, Vivek Singh produced a quickfire cameo of 18-ball 49 but was unlucky to miss out on a half-century to give Bengal a winning total.
Asked about his poor form, Tiwary said: "It's just a matter of time. I am hitting the ball well in nets. I know I will score big soon. The next two matches are crucial for us and we are looking to leave everything on the field. The team is motivated to do well," he added.
Meanwhile Karnataka kept their march towards Super League securing their fifth win on the trot when they fought hard to beat Chhattisgarh by four wickets.
Chasing a stiff 172, Karnataka found themselves reeling at 122/6 with 21 balls remaining.
Batting at No 7, former skipper R Vinay Kumar (14-ball 34 not out) held his nerves to take them across the line with three balls to spare.
At Barabati Stadium: Bengal 234/6; 20 overs (Wriddhiman Saha 129, Vivek Singh 49; Akhilesh Sahani 3/36) beat Arunachal Pradesh 127/4; 20 overs (Kshitiz Sharma 54 not out) by 107 runs.
Chhattisgarh 171/3; 20 overs (Harpeet Singh 79, Amandeep Khare 45 not out) lost to Karnataka 175/6; 19.2 overs (Karun Nair 35, R Vinay Kumar 34 not out; A Mourya 2/13, Shubham Singh 2/35, Vishal Kushwah 2/40) by four wickets.
At DRIEMS Ground: Haryana 205/2; 20 overs (Guntashveer Singh 100 not out, Sumit KUmar 41; Lalnunkima Varte 2/30) beat Mizoram 166/5; 20 overs (Taruwar Kohli 63, Akhil Rajput 59; Rahul Tewatia 2/18, Ashish Hooda 2/25) by 39 runs.
Assam 142/9; 20 overs (Sibasankar Roy 47; Pappu Roy 4/21) lost to Odisha 143/3; 16.5 overs (Biplab Samantray 49, Anurag Sarangi 43 not out) by seven wickets.
Mushtaq Ali: Railways halt Mumbai in their tracks
Indore: Railways dished out a clinical performance in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy at Indore on Wednesday, crushing formidable Mumbai by 57 runs and snapping their unbeaten run in the group stage of the domestic T20 tournament.
Coming into the match, Mumbai had won all their games so far in the tournament.
But in their Group C match against Railways, the domestic giants put up a sub-par show.
Put into bat by Mumbai skipper Ajinkya Rahane, Railways posted a competitive 175/5 in their 20 overs with opener Pratham Singh (89) top-scoring.
Chasing 176, the famed Mumbai batting line-up collapsed as they were shot out for 118 in 18.1 overs.
For Railways, their openers Pratham Singh (89 off 60 balls) and Mrunal Devdhar (43 off 20 balls) put up 65 runs for the first wicket.
Pacer Tushar Deshpande got the breakthrough for Mumbai after he cleaned up Devdhar, who struck two fours and five sixes.
Railways lost No 3 batsman Prashant Awasthi (0) early.
But the quick fall of two wickets did not deter 26- year-old Pratham, who kept playing his shots.
He hit nine fours and three sixes as Mumbai bowlers were taken to task and it was due to his blazing knock that Railways made 175/5.
Mumbai lost openers Rahane (4) and young prodigy Prithvi Shaw (6) cheaply, leaving them at 12-2.
In-form Shreyas Iyer (16) and dependable Siddhesh Lad (2) also fell in quick succession as Mumbai slumped to 33/4.
Barring Surya Kumar Yadav (38), no other batsman crossed 20-run individual mark.
Mumbai were never in the fray as they kept losing wickets and were eventually bundled out for 118.
For Railways, slow left-arm orthodox bowler Ashish Yadav (4-32) was the pick of the bowlers and was well supported by others.
At Indore: (Emerald High International School Ground): Railways 175/5 (Pratham Singh 89, Mrunal Devdhar 43; Tushar Deshpande 3-44, Siddesh Lad 1-9) won against Mumbai 118 all out (Surya Kumar Yadav 38, Shreyas Iyer 16; Ashish Yadav 4-32, Amit Mishra 2-14) by 57 runs.
Railways 4 points, Mumbai 0 points.
At Indore (Holkar Stadium): Sikkim 90/8 (Milind 37, Bibek 18; Baltej Singh 2-13, Krishan Alang 2-17) lost to Punjab 95/1 (Shubman Gill 70 not out, Manan Vohra 13 not out; B B Sharma 1-18) by nine wickets.
Punjab 4 points, Sikkim 0 points.
At Surat (C B Patel Ground): Tamil Nadu 138/9 (Murli Vijay 77, Chaturved N S 19 not out; Ankit Rajan Maini 3-29, K D Singh 2-30) lost to Himachal Pradesh 139/3 (P S Chopra 68 not out, E C Sen 35, Abhishek Tanwar 2-14) by seven wickets.
Himachal Pradesh 4 points, Tamil Nadu 0 points.
At Surat (Lalbhai Contractor Stadium): Vidarbha 161/6 (S U Srivastava 56, R R Rathod 38 not out; R R Biswa 2-26, Akash Kumar 1-28) won against Meghalaya 129/4 (Gurinder Singh 56 not out, R R Biswa 19; Yash Thakur 2-27, Akshay Wakhare 1-15) by 32 runs.
Vidarbha 4 points, Meghalaya 0 points.
At Surat (Lalbhai Contractor Stadium): - Gujarat 199/4 (Priyank Panchal 78, Dhruv Raval 36, Vishal Das 2-40, Samar Quadri 1-40) won against Bihar 116/7 (Keshav Kumar 61 not out, Ashutosh Aman 24; A Nagwaswalla 4-15, Axar Patel 1-15) by 83 runs.
Gujarat 4 points, Bihar 0 points.
At Indore: (Emerald Ground): Goa 196/3 (Amit Verma 109 not out, Suyash Prabhudessai 46 not out, Iswar Pandey 2-26, Parth Sahani 1-23) lost to Madhya Pradesh 197/6 (Parth Sahani 68, Naman Ojha 36, Felix Alemao 2-25, Darshan Misal 2-42) by four wickets.
Madhya Pradesh 4 points, Goa 0 points.
Jharkhand notches up 4th straight win
Mulapadu, Andhra Pradesh: The Jharkhand juggernaut rolled on as the team defeated Nagaland by 54 runs for its fourth straight victory in a Group 'A' match in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy cricket tournament at Mulapadu on Wednesday.
Jharkhand piled up 197 for 3 in 20 overs riding on good knocks by captain Ishan Kishan (52, 39 balls, 11X4), Kumar Deobrat (69 not out) and Anukul Roy (47 not out) and then restricted Nagaland to 143 for 3.
Electing to bat, Kishan started off on a brisk note before losing opening partner Anand Singh (14, 3X4) at 20.
But, the aggressive left-hander stepped up the pace and took the attack to the Nagaland bowlers, adding 42 runs with Virat Singh (9, 15b).
After Virat's exit, Kishan and Deobrat, who smashed five fours and six sixes in his swashbuckling 32-ball 69, put on 24 runs.
The 111-run partnership for the fourth wicket in a little over eight overs between Deobrat and Roy, who hit four boundaries and three sixes, shut out Nagaland as they bowlers wilted under the onslaught.
In reply, the Nagaland batsmen couldn't force the pace and ended up 54 runs short.
Sedezhalie Rupero, who made 38 from 54 balls, struggled to get the big hits while captain Rongsen Jonathan made 47 (33 balls, 4X4, 2X6).
Paceman Varun Aaron bowled his four overs conceding just 13 runs and picked up one wicket.
In other matches, Kerala thrashed Jammu and Kashmir by 94 runs, bundling out its rival for 65 after making 159 for 7 while Delhi defeated Andhra Pradesh by 32 runs to notch up its fourth victory.
Brief scores: Kerala 159 for 7 in 20 overs (Vinoop Manoharan 52, Mohd Azharudeen 32, Irfan Pathan 2 for 32, Parvez Rasool 2 for 34) beat J&K 65 all out in 14.2 overs (Jatin Wadhwan 24, Sudeshan Midhun 3 for 9). Points: Kerala: 4, J&K: 0.
Jharkhand 197 for 3 in 20 overs (Kumar Deobrat 69 not out, Ishan Kishan 52, Anukul Roy 47 not out) beat Nagaland 143 for 3 in 20 overs (Rongsen Jonathan 48, S Rupero 38). Points: Jharkhand: 4, Nagaland: 0.
Delhi 175 for 8 in 20 overs (Unmukt Chand 70, Lalit Yadav 31) beat Andhra Pradesh (Ashwin Hebbar 38, Shoaib Mohd Khan 26 not out, Subhodh Bhati 4 for 27). Points: Delhi: 4, Andhra: 0.
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