Ranji Trophy: Bengal bounce back to stun Baroda after Shahbaz, Abhishek’s fifties | Cricket News

CUTTACK: All-rounder Shahbaz Ahmed and debutant wicketkeeper Abhishek Porel struck unbeaten fifties as Bengal bounced back after their first-innings debacle to secure a dramatic four-wicket win over Baroda in their Ranji Trophy Group B opener on Sunday.
Chasing 349 on the fourth day after being shot out for a paltry 88 in the first innings, Bengal rode on the duo of Ahmed and Porel, who stitched an unbroken 108-run partnership for the seventh wicket to steer their team home.
Resuming on 146/2, Bengal received an early jolt when skipper Abhimanyu Easwaran got out without any addition to his overnight total of 79 in the fourth ball of the day.
There were familiar jitters in the middle with Bengal losing three quick wickets including the duo of Sudip Chatterjee (18) and overnight batter Anustup Majumdar (33) in the space of four balls to be 176/5.
Medium pacer Abhimanyusingh Rajput (3/73) revived Baroda’s hopes with the double blow.
But Bengal’s deputy sports minister and former skipper Manoj Tiwary, who made a return to cricket after his foray into politics last year, arrested the slide with a fighting 37 from 61 balls before becoming Rajput’s third victim.
Tottering at 242/6, Bengal unearthed a future star in the 19-year-old Abhishek, who showed utmost maturity and matched his senior partner, Shahbaz.
Abhishek hit seven boundaries en route to his maiden fifty. Shahbaz also hit an identical seven fours — all through the off-side region — as the pair sealed the issue in 91.3 overs.
“It feels incredible. Wanted to start well for the senior team and as always it feels great to win for Bengal. There was some pressure but teammates, seniors helped a lot, and advised to play my normal game.
“Shahbaz da (brother) guided me while we were batting on the wicket. I played according to our plan and played my normal game,” Abhishek said about his dream debut.
Bengal skipper Easwaran praised both the batters and bowlers for the remarkable comeback.
“Every player has contributed to the cause, as the batters have shown character the bowlers have done commendable jobs too,” Abhimanyu said.
“It’s about believing in the hard work that we have put in. The best part is even when we had 349 runs to chase, every single member of the team believed that we can do the job.
“Shahbaz has batted with a lot of responsibility, special mention to Abhishek Porel- the character he showed, the attitude he was batting with was great to watch,” the skipper added.
Cricket Association of Bengal president Avishek Dalmiya and secretary Snehasish Ganguly congratulated the team after the win.
“This is a team with the right mixture of youth and experience. It is nice to see youngsters like Abhishek Porel who played exceptionally well in his debut match.
“The team also showed grit, determination and the will to win against all odds. Shahbaz Ahmed once again showed why he is a fabulous finisher in any format of the game.
“Captain Abhimanyu Easwaran led the battle from the front and filled the team with belief. The bowlers also did a fine job restricting Baroda twice. I wish them well in future matches,” Dalmiya said.
Snehasish said it’s a result of their focus on developing the youth.
“We are putting thrust on youngsters and are doing leagues like T20 League, U25 emerging players meet and district meets to scout the young talent and harness their potential and watch them flourish.”
“The philosophy is to give them a chance and help them mature. I would also like to congratulate coach Arun Lal, his deputy Sourashis Lahiri and the support staff for their contribution,” the CAB secretary added.
Brief Scores:
At Barabati Stadium: Baroda 181 and 255. Bengal 88 and 350/6; 91.3 overs (Abhimanyu Easwaran 79, Shahbaz Ahmed 71 not out, Abhishek Porel 53 not out; Abhimanyusingh Rajput 3/73). Bengal won by four wickets. Points: Bengal 4, Baroda 0.
At Vilas Cricket Ground: Hyderabad 347 and 269/8 declared. Chandigarh 216 and 183; 50.5 overs (Arslan Khan 68; Ravi Teja 6/41). Hyderabad won by 217 runs. Points: Hyderabad 6, Chandigarh 0.

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