Solid Bengal too good for Jharkhand, enter final

Goswami, Easwaran slam tons in 41-run win

Solid Bengal too good for Jharkhand, enter final
MS Dhoni produced a free-flowing 70 off 62 balls but couldn’t take Jharkhand to the final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy. Against a determined Bengal, they fell short by 41 runs in the second semifinal at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium on Saturday. Bengal will meet Tamil Nadu in the final here on Monday.

Electing to field, Jharkhand attack couldn’t rein in the batting might of Bengal on a helpful track. Bengal openers Shreevats Goswami (101) and Abhimanyu Easwaran (101) stroked fluent centuries with captain Manoj Tiwary lending the finishing touches with a brisk 75 n.o. to swell the innings to 329/4 in 50 overs.

Jharkhand’s innings revolved around Dhoni, who struck two partnerships of 54 for the fourth wicket with Saurabh Tiwary and 97 for the fifth with Ishan Jaggi. But once Dhoni was dismissed in the 43rd over, Jharkhand collapsed for 288 in 50 overs. In the absence of an injured Ishan Kishan, the Jharkhand top order was slow to get runs on the board. By the time Dhoni came in at number 5, to the delight of a handsome crowd, Jharkhand were reeling at 99/3 in 23rd over.

There were scenes similar to that at Palam Ground, young enthusiasts breaking into the ground to touch Dhoni's feet, the crowd screaming his name in chorus. Dhoni’s presence instantly enhanced the scoring rate with his swift running between the wickets an admirable evidence of his fitness. Additionally, he hit four towering sixes to send the fans into a state of frenzy.

Dhoni was lucky to get a reprieve on 9 when Ashok Dinda, of off-spinner Aamir Gani, missed a catch at long-off, the ball spilling from his hands for a boundary. Dhoni further rubbed it in when in the next over of Gani, he dispatched him for two sixes over long-on.

Dinda somewhat made amends when he bowled Tiwary, but with Dhoni and Jaggi around, Jharkhand were well on course for a successful chase. The two set the stage for Jharkhand's fightback, and were relentless in their attack on spinners. However, Dhoni, stepping out, missed the line off left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha and was bowled in the last ball of 43rd over, leaving Jharkhand at 250/5. From there on, the others could only add 38 more runs.

Earlier, Bengal thrived on their 198-run opening stand as Jharkhand bowlers, with their predictable line, struggled to get a breakthrough. By the time, they could dismiss Goswami and Easwaran, Bengal was in a position of strength with their captain doing the rest.

Brief scores: Bengal: 329/4 in 50 overs (Shreevats Goswami 101, Abhimanyu Easwaran 101, Manoj Tiwary 75 n.o.; Varun Aaron 2-89) bt Jharkhand: 288 all out in 50 overs (Kumar Deobrat 37, Saurabh Tiwary 48, MS Dhoni 70, Ishank Jaggi 59; Kanishk Seth 2-48, Sayan Ghosh 2-52, Pragyan Ojha 5-71).

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