: Manpreet Grewal had to demonstrate his bowling skills after that batting cameo last evening. His five-wicket haul, supported by four wickets by Siddarth Kaul, was well timed as he played the stellar role in Punjab’s innings and 27 runs victory in the Ranji Trophy match against Bengal at the PCA Stadium here on Monday.

Punjab collected seven points to take its tally to 14 from two matches, this being its successive win by an innings, having beaten Hyderabad last week. Bengal has three points.

Fighting knock

But for a fighting knock by Laxmi Ratan Shukla (91 off 83 balls with 12 fours and four sixes) Bengal would have lost in the first session itself. Bengal’s hopes were dashed when Wriddhiman Saha was bowled offering no shot to left-arm spinner Bipul Sharma. It was a clever ploy to bring Bipul into the attack at that stage.

Grewal’s sixth five-wicket strike set up the win for Punjab. As coach Arun Sharma observed, “We played good cricket with good cricketing discipline. Every one was told to play his role and I am happy everyone played his role.”

Bengal needed 254 to make Punjab bat this morning, a task that looked improbable when the visiting side lost half the side for 39.

The Punjab attack proved incisive even as Bengal batted flamboyantly, some falling to indiscretion and some to the sustained effort from Grewal and an outstanding consistent Kaul.

Bengal lacked discipline. “We lacked application and they (Punjab) showed the discipline. Punjab was a far superior side. We played the catching up game right through,” noted Bengal coach W. V. Raman.

From the time Writam Porel stuck a tentative bat to Grewal in the first over of the day the team slid rapidly towards defeat.

Triggering collapse

The collapse was triggered by Joyajit Basu falling to the hard-working Kaul. The trend continued and Punjab tightened the noose as the game progressed.

There was assistance from the wear and tear of the pitch and Punjab did well to focus on a stump-to-stump line.

The late deviation, seam and spin, accounted for Bengal’s decline as the batsmen appeared clueless. The loss of early wickets dented Bengal’s confidence and there was no escaping the humiliation as Grewal produced a scorching spell to skittle the opposition.

Grewal was the pick for his tactical bowling.

He induced a top edge from Arnab Nandi and Anustup Majumdar to one that kicked and took the glove. Much later, he crashed through the defence of Sourav Sarkar to hasten Bengal’s debacle.

“I just stuck to a tight back-of-the-length attack. We had to attack and all the bowlers played their part,” said Grewal.

The scores:

Bengal 1st innings: 326.

Punjab—1st innings: 579 for seven decl.

Bengal — 2nd innings: Jayojit Basu c Goel b S. Kaul 11, Subhamoy Das c Amitoz b S. Kaul 9, Writam Porel c Mandeep b Grewal 1, Arnab Nadi c Rahul b Grewal 1, Manoj Tiwary lbw b S. Kaul 30, Anustup Majumdar c U. Kaul b Grewal 4, Wriddhiman Saha b Bipul 57, Laxmi Ratan Shukla (not out) 91, Veerpratap Singh lbw b Grewal 0, Sourav Sarkar b Grewal 0, Ashok Dinda lbw b Grewal 2, Extras (b-8, lb-11, nb-1) 20, Total (in 65 overs) 226.

Fall of wickets: 1-24, 2-25, 3-25, 4-33, 5-39, 6-102, 7-213, 8-216, 9-216.

Punjab bowling: Manpreet Grewal 15-2-41-5, Sandeep Sharma 8-3-22-0, Siddarth Kaul 17-3-58-4, Bipul Sharma 4-2-11-1, Rahul Sharma 18-1-62-0, Amitoz Singh 2-0-8-0, Karan Goel 1-0-5-0.

Keywords: Ranji Trophy

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