KALYANI (West Bengal): Rookie spin all-rounder Shahbaz Ahmed shone with a first-innings hat-trick in a six-wicket match haul as Bengal thrashed a sloppy Hyderabad by an innings and 303 runs for their first win of the ongoing Ranji Trophy season on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old, who was bought by Royal Challengers Bangalore for the 2020 edition of the IPL, claimed the feat in his seventh Ranji appearance.

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Shahbaz (4/26) ran through the Hyderabad lower order to help his side bundle out the visitors for 171 in their first innings. Following on, Hyderabad were all out for 161 with Shahbaz (2/51) accounting for two batsmen.

Shahbaz became the seventh player from Bengal, and first since India pacer Mohammed Shami, to claim a Ranji Trophy hat-trick. Shami had achieved the milestone against Madhya Pradesh in 2012-13.

Rookie pacer Akash Deep (4/38) was the star in Hyderabad’s second essay as Hyderabad were bundled out in 46.2 overs.

Bengal had scored 635 for seven declared in their first innings after electing to bat.

Having made his debut against Andhra three matches ago after Ashok Dinda was sacked for misconduct, Akash Deep took two wickets in his first two overs before his senior partner Mukesh Kumar (1/29) and Shahbaz got into the act to complete the victory inside three days.

Having lost to Vidarbha inside two days in their last outing, Bengal with this bonus point victory (19 points from five matches) now have bounced back in contention for a knockout berth.

Done in by conditions at Eden Gardens where they drew two matches, Bengal had chosen this venue about 70 kilometres from their base in Kolkata as they finally secured their first win at home this season.

It all went as per the script with senior most batsman Manoj Tiwary setting up a solid foundation with his maiden triple century (303 not out) in Bengal’s massive total.

Then the young pace duo of Mukesh Kumar and Akash Deep set up the tempo taking six wickets, five of them in the final session on day two, making it an easier task for hat-trick man Shahbaz.

Bengal will take on Delhi at Eden Gardens from January 27, which will be their last home match.

“We played immaculate cricket. Wicket didn’t turn at all when we expected it to turn. Hats off to our pacers they bowled with a lot of venom. We won the match yesterday itself by taking five wickets,” coach and mentor Arun Lal said.

“Two of our games washed out otherwise we would have been in top of the table. The big plus were Shahbaz (49) and Arnab Nandi (65 not out). They are capable of getting hundreds. This is a sensational team,” he said referring to their batting contributions in the first innings.

“If you add Ishan Porel, we would be one of the best bowling attacks of the country. All are young and all are fast. When your bowlers take 20 wickets you get the confidence.”

Introduced in the 27th over, Shahbaz opened his account trapping Saketh Sairam (19). Amid the batting collapse, number six Jaweed Ali showed some fight with a fine half-century.

But Shahbaz bowled him out for 72 and went on to trap Ravi Kiran (0) and Kolla Sumanth (eight) with perfect left-arm orthodox spin to dismiss the visitors inside the first session.

Earlier Mukesh Kumar led the Bengal pace attack beautifully as he gave the first breakthrough in the fourth ball of the day, cleaning up Tanmay Agarwal in his overnight score of 10 after Hyderabad resumed the day on 83/5 in their first innings.

Continuing his marathon overnight spell, Mukesh finished with 3/37, while Akash Deep (3/66) could not add to his tally as it was the hattrick hero Shahbaz who ran through the tail.

Triple centurion Manoj Tiwary stood in as wicketkeeper in the post lunch session, after Shreevats Goswami hurt his knee.

“It’s just a niggle. Maybe a couple of days rest and he will be fine,” Lal said.

The seniormost Bengal batsman looked sharp behind the stumps as he effected the caught-behind dismissal of Teja and also executed run outs of Ali and Mehid Hasan.

Brief Scores:

Bengal 635/7 declared.

Hyderabad 171; 46.3 overs (Jaweed Ali 72; Shahbaz Ahmed 4/26, Mukesh Kumar 3/37, Akash Deep 3/66) and 161; 46.2 overs (Ravi Teja 53; Akash Deep 4/38).

Bengal won by an innings and 303 runs.

Points: Bengal 7, Hyderabad 0.


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