East Zone powerhouses Bengal, and Jharkhand made it to the National phase of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy Twenty20 tournament beginning on Tuesday.

Despite setting a low target, Bengal beat Odisha by nine runs to win its fourth straight match to log 16 points and advance as the zone’s No. 1 team.

Jharkhand outplayed Assam by eight wickets. This forced a three-way tie with Odisha, Assam and Jharkhand finishing with eight points. Jharkhand, however, moved up with a better net run rate.

Jharkhand had a NRR of 0.253 as against third-placed Assam’s -0.307 and Odisha’s -0.391. Tripura finished at the bottom having lost all its four matches.

It seemed Jharkhand had done its homework better and came up with a clear plan of restricting the opposition and overhauling the score in such a way that would enhance its net run rate.

The Jharkhand bowling was on target from the start. Despite two early dropped catches, it did not allow any of the Assam batsmen to settle down. Only Parvez Aziz (24) and pinch-hitter Rajdeep Das (20) got runs early on while Dheeraj Jadhav, Sibsankar Roy and Pritam Debnath failed to capitalise on good starts. Once again left-arm spinner Sharfaraz Ashraf excelled. Assam was restricted to 127 for eight in 20 overs.

Jharkhand needed to overhaul the target in 18 overs. In spite of losing Ishank Jaggi early on, Jharkhand’s Ishan Kishan (48, 35b, 6x4), Virat Singh (25, 29b) and Saurabh Tiwary (36, 21b 2x4, 2x6) ensured that victory was achieved in 16.2 overs for the loss of two wickets.

Laxmi Ratan Shukla made way for opener Abhishek Das and veteran Sourasish Lahiri led Bengal to a narrow victory. Batting first, Bengal reached 121 for seven in 20 overs with young opener Vivek Singh hitting 38 (27b, 3x4, 2x6) and Arnab Nandi contributing 29 (25b, 3x4). Biplab Samantaray’s military medium-pace earned him two for 18 and left-arm spinner Jayant Behera picked up two for 23.

The low score looked an easy target for Odisha, which needed the win to progress. Except for Govind Poddar (39, 36b, 4x4), none of the Odisha batsmen stood up to the test. The team ended at 112 for nine in 20 overs.

The scores: Bengal 121 for seven in 20 overs (Vivek Singh 38, Arnab Nandi 29, B. Samantaray two for 18, Jayanta Behera two for 23) bt Odisha 112 for nine in 20 overs (Govind Poddar 39, Pritam Chakraborty two for 26, Sanjib Sanyal two for 14, Aamir Gani two for 26, Arnab Nandi two for seven). Bengal 4, Odisha 0.

Assam 127 for eight in 20 overs (Parvez Aziz 24, Rajdeep Das 20, Sharfaraz Ashraf three for 22) lost to Jharkhand 128 for two in 16.2 overs (Ishan Kishan 48, Virat Singh 25 n.o., Saurabh Tiwary 36 n.o.). Jharkhand 4, Assam 0.

More In: Cricket | Sport