Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Jharkhand entered the semi-finals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy after outplaying Vidarbha by six wickets at the Palam Ground, in New Delhi, on Wednesday.
Choosing to bat, Vidarbha found themselves in dire straits at 87 for seven before Ravi Jangid came up with a fighting 62 to take his team to 159 for nine in 50 overs.
Jharkhand's potent pacers Varun Aaron, Rahul Shukla and Rahul Shukla tested the opposition with short-pitched stuff on a lifeless track, sharing four wickets among themselves.
Later, Jharkhand openers Pratyush Singh (33) and Ishan Kishan (35) provided a solid start before Dhoni (18 not out) and Ishank Jaggi (41 not out) completed the chase in 45.1 overs.
It was a rather fitting end to the game with Dhoni hitting a straight six in the first ball off Ganesh Satish.
The quarter-final attracted attention due to Dhoni’s presence but the game was not of high quality with the slow pitch making life tough for the batsmen.
Batting alongside the experienced Jaggi, Dhoni’s first boundary was a cover drive off left-arm spinner Jangid. The duo, realising that strokeplay was difficult on the surface, were busy collecting the singles and complemented their stand with an odd boundary.
Dhoni’s humility also came to the fore today as he happily obliged a fan with an autograph even though he had trespassed into the centre with Jharkhand nearing the victory target.
Bengal pip Maharashtra by 4 wickets to enter Hazare semi-final
Bengal held their nerves beating Maharashtra by four wickets in a high-scoring thriller to set up a clash with Mahendra Singh Dhoni's Jharkhand in the semi-final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Chasing a stiff target of 319, Bengal won the match when young Amir Gani lofted off- spinner Shamshuzama Kazi for a boundary off the penultimate ball of the match.
However the turning point was a 117 run stand for the 5th wicket between Sudeep Chatterjee (60 no, 51 balls) and seasoned Anushtup Majumdar (66, 59 balls) after Bengal were in some trouble at 187 for 4. This was after set batsman Shreevats Goswami (74, 88 balls) and skipper Manoj Tiwary (40) were sent back in quick succession by rival captain Kedar Jadhav.
Maharashtra had scored 318/6 riding on Rahul Tripathi's 74-ball-95 and Nikhil naik's 63. Skipper Kedar Jadhav had contributed 44.
It was Sudeep's termperament and Anushtup's audacious strokes blended with deft touchplay that ensured that Bengal never lost the momentum keeping up with the run-rate at a steady pace.
Sudeep's innings had four boundaries and two sixes -- both off left-arm spinner Jagdish Zope.
What helped was the fact Maharashtra had two left-arm spinners in Zope (0/61 in 8 overs)and Satyajeet Bachhav (0/61 in 10 overs) were taken to task by the Bengal batsmen.
It was Kedar, who created some problems especially as Manoj, who looked good for a big score was guilty of trying to hit him across the line.
Credit should also be given Shreevats and List A debutant Agniv Pan (47) for providing the initial impetus on which the others worked upon.
Brief Scores: Maharashtra 318/6 in 50 overs (Rahul Tripathi 95, Nikhil Naik 63, Kedar Jadhav 44, Amir Gani 2/70) vs Bengal 320/6 in 49.5 overs (Shreevats Goswami 74, Anushtup Majumdar 66, Sudeep Chatterjee 60 no, Agniv Pan 47, Manoj Tiwary 40). Bengal won by 4 wickets.