Kolkata: Railways secured a 122-run victory in their Ranji Trophy encounter against Bengal, but fell short of sealing a quarterfinal berth. The game drew to a close not too long into the final session, after Sandipan Das’ half-century denied Railways for the most part.
Resuming the day at 20 for one, Bengal faced a target of 372 for victory, after Railways declared at 314 for nine. That was always a steep chase, especially given Bengal’s troubles in the batting department so far this season. Although that did prove the case, Bengal could take some solace from the batting of Sandipan Das, the 20-year-old who was making his first-class debut. He displayed immense steel and determination and ensured Bengal didn’t crumble.
Walking in at No.4, following the dismissal of Sudip Chaterjee, he held firm while those opposite him fell regularly. He associated with Arindam Das for 33 runs, Arindam doing most of the scoring while Sandipan settled in. There were a couple of boundaries off Anureet Kathuriya, one guided past point, the other driven straight, but the stand was broken soon after by Sanjay Bangar, who trapped Arindam (40) plumb in front.
Railways looked to attack Sandipan, with tough fields and regular loud appeals. At one point, he was hit on the side by Ranjit Mali, but after quick treatment, he recovered and carried on, flicking Karn Sharma down to the fine-leg boundary. With Wridhiman Saha at the other end, Bengal managed to negate the bowling and go into lunch at 108 for three.
While Sandipan stood steady at one end, wickets fell at the other. Not too long after lunch, Saha was sent back, although controversially, by Bangar. The scalp was Bangar’s second of the day and his 300th in first-class cricket. Saha, attempting to leave the delivery, was deemed to have nicked it and was caught behind and he walked back, helpless. Abhishek Jhunjhunwala, the new man, didn’t last long either.
Meanwhile, Sandipan got his half-century with a quick single. Reaching the landmark motivated him to play a few shots, and there was a cut past point off Krishnakant Upadhayay. Debabrata Das, the new man, also got into the act, pulling Upadhyay to the square-leg boundary. The runs dried up after that though, and a slightly impatient Sandipan holed out to Anureet at deep midwicket.
From there on, it was just a matter of time. Debabrata Das, Iresh Saxena, Veerpratap Singh and Sourav Sarkar were dismissed cheaply and the match was wrapped up an hour after tea, with Bengal bowled out for 249.