After scoring a huge 329 and then reducing Jharkhand to 153/4 in the 31st over, Bengal would have thought of making it to the final of Vijay Hazare Trophy quite easily. However, the presence of Jharkhand skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on the pitch gave them a mighty scare before Pragyan Ojha castled him to seal the win for his team.
The former India skipper, after sharing a chase-reviving partnership of 54 with Saurabh Tiwary, brought his team right back into the contest by adding 97 runs with the in-form Ishank Jaggi. With 80 runs needed off the last seven overs and Dhoni and Jaggi going great guns, Jharkhand looked well set to register an unlikely win but Ojha dashed their hopes by trapping Dhoni for 70, a 62-ball knock that included two fours and four sixes. Soon after, Sayan Ghosh accounted for Jaggi for 59 as Bengal heaved a huge sigh of relief.
Well, the story could have been very different had Dhoni stayed till the last over and former India skipper Sourav Ganguly, who went to Delhi to cheer his team, is well aware of the fact.
Speaking after his state team set up the summit clash with Tamil Nadu, an exuberant Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) President said:
“If Dhoni stayed in the crease for 50 overs, he would have won the match for Jharkhand.”
Batting first, Bengal scored a mammoth 329/4 in the allotted 50 overs. Opening batsmen Shreevats Goswami and Abhimanyu Easwaran scored 101 each while Manoj Tiwary played a quickfire knock of 75 before Pragyan Ojha’s five-wicket haul secured Bengal’s passage to the final.
When asked about Bengal’s performance, Ganguly said:
“The boys have played terrific cricket today. In fact they have been playing well right throughout the season. Out of the last 16 matches we won 15, and that to me is phenomenal. Ojha had been terrific.”