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Posted at: Jan 11, 2019, 7:31 AM; last updated: Jan 11, 2019, 7:31 AM (IST)

Punjab, Bengal play out a draw, both hit dead end

Kolkata, January 10

Bengal opener Abhimanyu Easwaran’s maiden double hundred went in vain as Bengal failed to qualify for the knockout stages after their Ranji Trophy Group B encounter against Punjab ended in a draw. Easwaran batted close to 10 hours and remained unbeaten on 201 off 373 balls (16x4) in his marathon knock that delayed Bengal’s declaration to post-tea session in the must-win contest.

Bengal declared at 432/6 after Easwaran completed his milestone, setting Punjab an improbable target of 173 in 16 overs with an hour’s play left on the final day. Punjab lost openers Shubman Gill (8) and Anmolpreet Singh (6) for 25 runs in 3.1 overs as they promoted Manpreet Grewal to No. 3 position. Grewal (58 off 28 balls) smashed the Bengal bowlers all around the park and took just 21 balls to notch up his second consecutive half-century. 

The Punjab hitter seized the initiative with veteran Yuvraj Singh (12 off 9 balls) before he ran out the star all-rounder in the fifth over. Grewal was cleaned up by Pradipta Pramanik in the 13th over as Punjab were restricted for 132/5 in 15 overs to settle for three points on basis of their first innings lead. 

Kerala beat HP, bag six points 

At Amtar, Kerala beat Himachal Pradesh by five wickets on the final day to grab six points. Vinoop Sheela Manoharan (96) and captain Sachin Baby (92) set up the win while Sanju Samson’s unbeaten 62 finished things off.

In previous editions, there would be three teams qualifying from Groups A and B while two teams qualified from Group C. However, this year five teams were supposed to qualify for quarterfinals from the first two groups (A and B) as per the points earned while two from Group C and one from Group D will join them for last-8 stage. Vidarbha (29), Saurashtra (29), Karnataka (27) and Gujarat (26) qualified from Group A while Kerala (26) with more outright wins (4) than Baroda (26 points, 3 wins) has qualified from group B.

Brief scores: Bengal: 187 and 432/6 decl in 130 overs (A Easwaran 201*, M Tiwary 105, W Chatterjee 48; M Markande 3/123); Punjab: 447 and 132/5 in 15 overs (M Gony 58, M Singh 35). 

Himachal Pradesh: 297 and 285/8 decl in 52.1 overs; Kerala: 286 and 299/5 in 67 overs (Vinoop Sheela Manoharan 96, Sachin Baby 92, Sanju Samson 61*). 

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