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No sweat for Mumbai, Bengal

KOLKATA, FEB. 6. Mumbai and Bengal won yet again to be on course in the Ranji Trophy one-day inter-zonal tournament here on Friday.

West Zone representative Mumbai used the conditions well to humble Tamil Nadu by seven wickets at the Eastern Railway Sports Complex to gain five points including one bonus.

East Zone champion Bengal almost eliminated Central Zone winner Rajasthan from the competition with an eight-wicket thrashing at the Jadavpur University Campus (Salt Lake). Bengal earned four to take its tally to eight with Mumbai leading the league table with nine points from two games. Rajasthan and Delhi were yet to gain a point while Tamil Nadu conceded one to be on minus 1.

Under overcast conditions Mumbai put Tamil Nadu in on a pitch that had some moisture. Tamil Nadu lost its captain S. Suresh very early caught by A. Nair off his own bowling for eight. Two left-handers Sridharan Sriram and Vidyut Sivaramakrishnan joined forces and played sensibly to add 47 runs before Vidyut left for 38 (65b, 4x4) at the total of 68 in the 20th over.

S. Badrinath and Sriram then added 33 for the third wicket before wicketkeeper Manish Bangera took a brilliant diving catch to dismiss Badrinath off leg-spinner Sairaj Bahutule for eight. When Sriram (39, 56b, 1x4, 1x6) left at the same score of 101 in the 29th over taken by part-time off-spinner Manoj Joglekar off his own bowling, Tamil Nadu plunged into deep trouble.

Further blows reduced the chances of Tamil Nadu putting on a big total when Sunil Viswanathan was run out at the total of 103 in the 29th over, and it was left to veteran S. Sharath to bail out his side. Though S.R. Ganesh Kumar and R. Ramkumar hung around to score 15 each Bahutule struck a double blow by removing Ganesh Kumar and D.J. Gokulakrishnan in two balls. Sharath was the last to leave, bowled by Munaf Patel for 19 (38b) as the Tamil Nadu's innings ended at 157 in 47.1 overs.

Mumbai replied strongly as the sun broke out of the cloud cover. Vinayak Mane and Robin Morris went for runs and put on 40 for the first wicket before Morris, who hit three towering sixes, was stumped for 32 (29b, 2x4, 3x6). Vinod Kambli and Mane added 48 for the second-wicket and it was all over for Tamil Nadu though Mane left for 73 (84b, 11x4, 1x6) and Vinit Indulkar for no score. Kambli remained unbeaten on 42 (78b, 3x4) as Mumbai reached the target in 34 overs to get the bonus point.

Rajasthan took first strike in a match reduced to 37-overs-a-side and lost wickets at regular intervals to end at 154 for eight. Only three players — opener and wicketkeeper Dishant Yagnik (34, 41b, 4x4), P. Krishnakumar (40, 72b, 2x4) and Anup Dave (24 not out, 22b, 2x4) — reached double figures.

Bengal was never in trouble, chasing the target of 154, with useful contributions from Arindam Das (46, 72b, 7x4), skipper Devang Gandhi (59 not out, 72b, 6x4, 2x6) and Deep Dasgupta (25 not out, 35b, 2x4). Bengal needed to achieve the win in 29.4 overs to earn the bonus point. After a day of rest on Saturday, the tournament would resume on Sunday with Delhi playing Mumbai and Tamil Nadu taking on Rajasthan.

Mumbai would be without the services of captain Sairaj Bahutule, Munaf Patel and Ramesh Powar who would turn out for India A side. In their places, Himanshu Waingankar, Onkar Khanvilkar and Musafir Khote would come into the squad. Similarly, Bengal would lose Shib Sankar Pal, Delhi would miss Gautam Gambhir and Mithun Manhas while S. Sriram would not be available for Tamil Nadu. Sadagoppan Ramesh, recovering from a hamstring injury, was expected to join the squad for the last two games against Delhi and Bengal.

The scores:

Tamil Nadu 157 in 47.1 over (Vidut Sivaramakrishnan 38, S. Sriram 39, S. Bahutule three for 23) lost to Mumbai 158 for three in 34 overs (Vinayak Mane 73, Robin Morris 32, V. Kambli 42 not out).

Rajasthan 154 for eight in 37 overs (D. Yagnik 34, P. Krishnakumar 40) lost to Bengal 155 for two in 32 overs (Arindam Das 46, D. Gandhi 59 not out, Deep Dasgupta 25 not out).

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