Kolkata: Bengal were well on course to register a dominant win over Himachal Pradesh after the way things went about in the first two days of the match. The batsmen scored runs, bowlers got wickets and did almost everything right to keep their Group D opponents under pressure throughout the match.
But Rishi Dhawan’s heroics on the final day almost changed the game for Himachal Pradesh. Things finally ended in a draw and Bengal, who looked good all throughout for six points, had to remain happy with only three.
Speaking to the reporters after the match, Bengal skipper Manoj Tiwary said that bad light was the deciding factor in the outcome of the match.
“The turning point is the light. If there was light, we would have won the game. We lost many overs in the match due to bad light,” he said.
The Bengal skipper also said that he wouldn’t consider this draw as an, ‘upset’.
“No I wouldn’t consider it to be an upset. We got three points from this match. Yes, we had aimed for six points but the boys played really well. Yes, we had gone through some phases where we were unlucky. The way Nikhil Gangta played, he got a lot of chances and he built a partnership where a lot of time was wasted. But as far as effort is concerned, the way the bowlers performed was creditable. Each and every one was committed,” said Manoj.
Ashok Dinda and Mohammad Shami-two of Bengal’s frontline bowlers once again starred in the match as they ripped apart the Himachal Pradesh batting in the first innings with five and three wickets respectively. In the second innings, the figures were interchanged as this time, it was Shami who grabbed a five-wicket haul and Dinda took three wickets to bowl out Himachal Pradesh for 353 runs.
The pace-bowling duo bowled more than 100 overs combined in the entire match and when asked as to whether he got the expected support from his 3rd and 4th bowler, he said, “I got more support than what I expected from them. Also, the national selectors didn’t give any limitations on how to them (Shami and Dinda). We all are players and we all need to be committed to the game. If there was time, they would have bowled more overs. There isn’t any extra load on them. Mukesh was playing his first match of the season and there wasn’t any purchase for the spinners.”
The Bengal captain further added, “I’ve always been saying that if the Ranji Trophy format is changed from four days to five days, then we would win most of these matches. Because of the shortage of time, there wasn’t any result in this match. If there was time, if there was light, we could have easily won this match. That’s why I’ve always been saying is that if this format is made into a five-day one, then the results would, more often than not be in our favour.”
“Credit needs to go to their batsmen as well. Both Shami and Dinda were bowling good spells and it’s not easy to play them. They also put in a lot of effort,” he also said.
Talking about his hundred (123) in the first innings, Tiwary said, ” I have always said that I analyse my own batting and I’m feeling better about it. So as far as my batting is concerned, I’m in good nick.”.
On Man-of-the-match Abhishek Raman’s batting performance in the first innings, the right-hander said, “He’s young and he has performed consistently. Unluckily he missed out two hundreds earlier but this time he got his maiden hundred and he’s feeling confident now.”
Coach Sairaj Bahutule too was happy with the commitment shown by his team. He said, “We played very good cricket. The bowlers did a fantastic job, the wicket was slowing down and the bowlers did a good job. Things didn’t go our way in some sessions but the effort has been brilliant.”
“A lot of youngsters learn from them. Everytime they go, every spell they bowl, they give their 100%. They play to win a game and yes, they have fantastic attitudes,” he added.