All-round Shukla stars in Bengal triumph

All-round Shukla stars in Bengal triumph

Bengal carved out a gutsy chase, led by seasoned Laxmi Ratan Shukla's pulsating 106 not out, to beat Mumbai by six wickets and win their maiden Vijay Hazare Trophy, the symbol of 50-over supremacy in Indian domestic cricket.

moment to savour Bengal coach WV Raman (left) and his wards celebrate their success against Mumbai in the final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy in New Delhi on Monday. pti

Shukla (90b, 12x4, 2x6) was irrepressible during his unbeaten 107-run fifth-wicket stand with Anustup Majumdar (50, 45b, 7x4) to steer Bengal to victory in 46.1 overs. He was effective with the ball too, ending with figures of 9.2-1-38-4 to rifle out Mumbai for 248 in 49.2 overs after the two-time champions opted to bat.

The Kotla track turned out to be the best the batsmen could have hoped and the ball came nicely to the bat even in the afternoon.

Bengal’s reply, though, was quick to hit a false note when Ajit Agarkar trapped Subhomoy Das leg before off the fourth ball of the innings. His dismissal brought skipper Sourav Ganguly to the crease.

Ganguly drove and punched with flair. He stitched 68 with Shreevats Goswami for the second wicket. An indiscreet shot cut short his innings as he caught and bowled by Anup Revandkar.

Shukla, promoted in the order, and Goswami kept the scoreboard ticking. Goswami's run out was shortly followed by the dismissal of crisis-man Wriddhiman Saha and the twin blows briefly sank Bengal's hopes. But Shukla had other plans. He joined forces with  Majumdar and the two dug their heels to revive their side.

Soon, the runs came at a brisk pace and in the process, Shukla brought up his century in 87 balls with 11 fours and two sixes -- one off Ankit Chavan over long-off and another off Kshemal Waingankar to midwicket.

Majumdar scored the winning runs through a piercing cover drive. Bengal coach WV Raman called it an ‘outstanding effort’ by Shukla. "It was a big game and he held the innings together. It was a close (match) and anything could have happened."

Shukla's effort took the sheen off Mumbai veteran Wasim Jaffer's effervescent batting that perked up the morning session. Jaffer and Ajinkya Rahane went about with effortless ease to give Bengal a nightmarish first 10 overs.

Jaffer (61, 48b, 10x4, 1x6) feasted on left-arm spinner Iresh Saxena, driving him for three successive boundaries before stepping out to hit him straight over the sightscreen in the ninth over which produced 19 runs. Shukla removed both openers, Rahane caught behind and Jaffer bowled.

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