Bengal captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla showed the way as the home team bowled out Railways for 222 in the second innings and secured a 48-run win in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals at the Eden Gardens here on Sunday.
Bengal, which made it to the semifinals for the first time since 2006-07, will lock horns with Maharashtra at Indore from January 18 to 22.
With the support of a vociferous weekend crowd, the host’s bowling came alive, picking up wickets at regular intervals to derail Railways.
The visitors, resuming at 117 for three, made a cautious start after the start was delayed by more than an hour due to bad light.
Ashoke Dinda, who was the pick of the Bengal bowlers, provided the breakthrough in the 10th over of the day, trapping a tentative Nitin Bhille in front.
While Dinda put pressure on the Railways batsmen with his aggression, the seasoned Shib Sankar Paul kept the other end tight with his accuracy.
Shukla, who came in as first change, livened up the proceedings as he used the seam to good effect.
The gutsy Bengal captain removed the dangerous Mahesh Rawat (14) just when the Railways wicketkeeper was settling down.
Rawat, the only century-maker in the match (119 in the first innings), was dismissed as he dragged the ball on to the stumps. When Rawat departed with the Railways score at 169, the visitors’ resolve was broken.
Paul was rewarded for his discipline when he induced the steady Arindam Ghosh (50) to edge behind to Wriddhiman Saha. At 179 for six and with all its recognised batsmen back in the pavilion, the writing was on the wall for Railways.
The Bengal bowlers ensured a swift end as the Railways innings ended just after lunch. Shukla claimed three wickets while Dinda, Paul and Sourav Sarkar picked up a couple each to complete a fine team effort.
Saha, who anchored the Bengal batting with two chanceless knocks of 87 and 81, was named the man-of-the-match.
The Bengal team was fined for slow over-rate by match referee Rajendra Jadeja. Captain Shukla was docked 100 per cent of his match fees while the rest of the players lost 50 per cent.
Bengal had incurred a similar penalty while playing Saurashtra in the league stage.
It was also informed that if the team repeats the offence in the semifinals, the skipper may be banned from playing in the final while the other team members will be fined 75 per cent of their match fees.
Bengal — 1st innings: 317.
Railways — 1st innings: 314.
Bengal — 2nd innings: 267.
Railways — 2nd innings: Amit Paunikar run out 41, Kartik Murali lbw b Shukla 56, Nitin Bhille lbw b Dinda 5, Shivakant Shukla b Dinda 0, Arindam Ghosh c Saha b Paul 50, Mahesh Rawat b Shukla 14, Karn Sharma c (sub) Nandi b Paul 17, Rongsen Jonathan c W. Chatterjee b Shukla 9, Anureet Singh (not out) 17, Krishnakant Upadhyay c S. Das b Sarkar 8, Ranjitkumar Mali b Sarkar 0; Extras (lb-4, nb-1): 5; Total (in 83.3 overs): 222.
Fall of wickets: 1-100, 2-103, 3-103, 4-135, 5-169, 6-179, 7-190, 8-210, 9-222.
Bengal bowling: Ashoke Dinda 27-8-77-2, Sourav Sarkar 12.3-2-22-2, Shib Sankar Paul 24-7-47-2, Saurasish Lahiri 5-0-27-0, Laxmi Ratan Shukla 15-2-45-3.