Kolkata: Railways put up an all-round performance to down Bengal by five wickets in a low-scoring match and set up a Vijay Hazare Trophy final with Karnataka at the Eden Gardens, here today.
Bengal's inept batting coupled with the defensive strategy to shave off the green top on the eve of the match brought the home team's downfall as it was bundled out for a paltry 185 in 47.4 overs.
In reply, Railways openers feasted on the Bengal attack to put on a 109-run partnership with Amit Paunikar scoring 83 (86 balls; 14x4) before Ashok Dinda gave made the first breakthrough in the 22nd over.
Railways lost four wickets for 31 runs, including Veer Pratap Singh's two-wicket burst in one over, but it was too little, too late as opener Shivakant Shukla held his nerve with an unbeaten 56 from 88 balls (5x4) to help the side chase down the target with 11.4 overs to spare.
Railways had last won the title in 2005-06, while their Sunday's summit clash opponents Karnataka are yet to win the one-day crown. The big win also avenged Railways' Ranji quarterfinal loss to Bengal and it was the home side's successive semifinal exit.
Bengal had lost to eventual runners-up Maharashtra in the Ranji semifinals. Bengal had become wary of Railways pace attack even before the match as they shaved off the grass after seeing their semis opponents skittle out star-studded Punjab for 105 the other day.
The strategy backfired after Bengal put up a listless show after opting to bat. Railways pacer Anureet Singh (8-1-22-1) once again set the tempo while spinners Chanderpal Saini (3/25), Karn Sharma (2/41) and Ashish Yadav (2/25) backed up well.
Manoj Tiwary (61 from 95 balls; 1x4) showed positive temperament but he did not get enough support from his teammates, forcing him to play a restrained innings. He scored his first and only boundary off the 81st delivery. Wriddhiman Saha (16), Sayan Sekhar Mondal (28) and Laxmi Ratan Shukla (3) looked good but the duo could not convert their starts.
Brief Scores: Bengal 185; 47.4 overs (Manoj Tiwary 61, Shreevats Goswami 38; Chanderpal Saini 3/25, Karn Sharma 2/41, Ashish Yadav 2/25) lost to Railways 188/5 in 38.2 overs (Amit Paunikar 83) by five wickets.