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02-Oct-2012 05:27:00 GMT
Bengal v India B, Challenger Trophy, Rajkot

India 'B' Enter Challenger Trophy Final

Rajkot: Skipper Cheteshwar Pujara struck his second unbeaten century in as many days while Praveen Kumar blasted his way to a 26-ball 53 as India 'B' posted a 21-run win over Bengal to set up a title clash with India 'A' in the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy on Monday.

Pujara remained not out on 124 as India 'A' finished their innings at a daunting 328 for eight in 50 overs at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium.

Faced with the challenge of chasing a huge target, Bengal were bundled out for 307 in 49.4 overs despite a captain's knock by Wriddhiman Saha who smashed 116 off 93 balls.

Earlier Murali Vijay, too, tasted at the top of the India 'B' batting order success as he hit a strokeful 79-ball 93 that contained eight fours and four sixes.

After opting to bat first, Pujara found the fence 10 times and cleared it twice during his 130-ball knock, while Kumar, coming in to bat at number nine, smashed seven fours and three sixes.

All-rounder Sandipan Das, who picked up five wickets for Bengal, did his job with the bat as well scoring a sedate half-century at number three.

Debabrata Das used the long handle to good effort, scoring a quickfire 49 off 27 balls but even his spirited effort did not matter in the end, as the winner did just enough to scrape through to the final.

Among the bowlers, India pacer Munaf Patel returned impressive figures of four 39 from 11 overs while all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja had two to his name.

But it was Pujara, who led by example, less than 24 hours after his unbeaten knock of 158 against India 'A' went in vain.

The Saurashtra batsman, tipped to be one of senior Indian team's middle-order mainstay in the near future, was involved in a 140-run partnership for the second wicket with Vijay after the early departure of Srikkanth Anirudha.

The Pujara-Vijay association laid the foundation for a big total before Kumar destroyed the Bengal attack with a sustained onslaught.

Such was Kumar's assault on the hapless bowlers that the eight-wicket stand between him and Pujara produced 67 runs in just five overs.

In reply, Bengal were off to a bad start as they lost both openers -- Jayojit Basu and Shreevats Goswami with just 21 runs on the board.

But a 140-run stand for the third wicket between Saha and Sandipan opened up the match.

Even as wickets kept tumbling after Sandipan's dismissal, Saha held fort before the pressure got to him -- he was trapped in front by Stuart Binny.

Just when it seemed like the match was as good as over for Bengal, Debabrata rose to the occasion slamming two fours and three sixes. But that was not enough as Patel and Kumar cleaned up the tail.

Brief scores:
India B:
328 for 8 (Pujara 124*, Vijay 93, Praveen 53, S Das 5-51)
Bengal: 307 (Saha 116, S Das 57, D Das 49*, Patel 4-39)
Result India 'B' won by 21 runs

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