Shahbaz Ahmed produced a brilliant all-round performance to power Bengal to a dominating 43-run win over Tamil Nadu in their Elite Group E match of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy on Sunday. The 27-year-old from Haryana led Bengal’s aggressive batting display with an unbeaten 27-ball 42 laced with three fours and two maximums to take the team to 164 for six after opting to bat. He then returned to scalp three crucial wickets with his left-arm spin to completely derail Tamil Nadu’s run chase as they ended with 121 for 9 in their stipulated 20 overs.
Shahbaz’s pyrotechnics helped Bengal finish with a flourish after skipper Abhimanyu Easwaran (38), Sudip Gharami (27) and Ritwik Chowdhury (32) set it up with useful knocks.
Washington Sundar (2/24) took two wickets, while Sai Kishore (1/20), T Natarajan (1/26) and Varun Chakaravarthy (1/39) grabbed one each.
Chasing 165 for a win, TN opener Sai Sudharsan blasted a 48-ball 64 with four boundaries and two sixes but did not get any support from the other end.
Shahbaz was in the thick of things right from the start as opener N Jagadeesan holed out to him off Akash Deep in the second over and then the spinner stuck twin blows in three balls to reduce TN to 50 for 3 in the ninth over.
He dismissed Baba Aparajith (16) and Sanjay Yadav (0) before getting rid off Washing Sundar (4) as TN’s batting fell apart after that.
Besides Shahbaz, Mukesh Kumar (2/33), Pradipta Pramanik (2/13), Writtick Chatterjee (1/19) and Akash Deep (1/28) were the other wicket takers.
In another match, Odisha pulled off a one-wicket win over Chandigarh in a last-ball thriller, riding on Rakesh Pattnaik’s unbeaten 61 off 24 balls.
Sent in to bat, Chandigarh posted 179 for 6 with Bhagmender Lather making 59 off 41 balls with seven maximums and Raj Bawa slamming 40 off 17 balls.
In reply, Odisha were down 5 for 2 but they recovered from the disastrous start with Shantanu Mishra (39) and Subhranshu Senapati (47) playing a big role in keeping them in the hunt.
Pattnaik then smashed seven boundaries and four sixes to take Odisha home in the last ball.
For Chandigarh, Jagjit Singh snapped four wickets.
Brief Scores: Bengal: 164 for 6 in 20 overs (Shahbaz Ahmed 42 not out; Washington Sundar 2/24). TN: 121 for 9 in 20 overs (Sai Sudharsan 64; Shahbaz Ahmed 3/13). Bengal won by 43 runs. Points: Bengal 4, TN 0.
Chandigarh: 179 for 6 in 20 overs (Bhagmender Lather 59; Tarani Sa 2/25, A Raut 2/29). Odisha: 181 for 9 in 20 overs (Rakesh Pattnaik 61, Subhranshu Senapati 47; Jagjit Singh 4/29). Odisha won by one wicket. Points: Odisha 4, Chandigarh 0.
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