Ranji Trophy: Bengal, Assam qualify for quarterfinals

Guwahati: Bengal and Assam qualifed for the knockout stage of the Ranji Trophy cricket tournament after grabbing three and one point respectively from their drawn Group A match here today.

While Bengal had already ensured their place in the quarterfinals after they forced Assam to follow on yesterday, the hosts also managed to sneak into the knockout stage after denying the visitors an outright win, finishing at 143 for 8 on the fourth and final day here.

Bengal and Assam are occupying the second and third place with 28 and 26 points respectively in the Group A points table, headed by Vidarbha with 29 points.

Assam, who had conceded a massive 301-run first innings lead to Bengal, resumed their second innings at 72 for 2 today but they found the going tough as wickets fell at regular intervals.

However, the hosts still managed to save the match, courtesy a patient half-century by opener Pallavkumar Das. He hit five fours in his 182-ball innings.

Bengal off-spinner Aamir Gani conjured up hopes of an outright win when he returned with a five-wicket haul but the visitors could not provide the finishing touch as the match ended in a draw.

Skipper Gokul Sharma (10) was the first to be dismissed today when he was cleaned up by Mukesh Kumar. Arun Karthik then returned to be pavillion when he was bowled by Gani in the 56th over.

In the 63rd over, Assam lost half their side when Tarjinder Singh too was dismissed by Gani with Pankaj Shaw taking the catch. One over later, Das was caught by Manoj Tiwary off Pragyan Ojha.

Amit Sinha and J Syed Mohammad then dug their heels and saw off 9.2 overs, scoring only three runs, while Amit and Wasiqur Rahman played the next 9.3 overs putting up just 14 runs to save the match.

Brief Score: Bengal: 444/6 declared Assam 1st innings: 143 in 54.4 overs Assam 2nd innings: 143-8 from 84 overs (PP Das 55; AA Gani 5/62).

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