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Ranji Trophy: Bengal settle for 3 points after frustrating draw vs Himachal

Kolkata: Rishi Dhawan's fine all-round show enabled Himachal Pradesh to stop hosts Bengal from logging home full points in a Ranji Trophy group D encounter, here on Saturday.

Having conceded a huge 213-run lead, Himachal Pradesh gave a much better account of themselves scoring 353 in the second innings -courtesy contributions from Priyanshu Khanudri (95), Prashant Chopra (81), Nikhil Gangta (57) and Dhawan (51 not out).
Mohammed Shami (5/109) and Ashok Dinda (3/74) could not recreate the magic of the first innings as Dhawan played 90 balls and more importantly had a ninth wicket stand of 39 with Sidharth Sharma (1) which consumed an hour and half's play.
A target of 141 in the final session under fading light was next to impossible and Dhawan's four-wicket burst ensured that captains decided to shake hands when Bengal were 65 for 4 in 15 overs.
The India pacer Shami wrapped up the tail en route his sixth five-wicket haul in first-class cricket but by then HP had done enough to get a point.
Bengal took it up positively promoting Wriddhiman Saha to open the innings but first innings centurion Raman (0) was gone first ball -- a mistimed pull-shot off Dhawan.
India A batsman Sudip Chatterjee (6) and skipper Manoj Tiwary (2) were sent back in successive overs before Dhawan also accounted for Shreevats Goswami (11).
Chatterjee (6) edged one to gully while skipper Tiwary was cleaned up with an inside edge as the dismissal forced Saha (34 not out) to play for a draw and secure three points.
It was a moral victory for Himachal having bounced back from being followed-on.
Punjab now lead the group D table with 15 points while Vidarbha with 14 are currently second.
Bengal, who were second, had a definite chance to take the lead but the draw meant they slipped to third place with 13 points. Bengal will play three more matches against Punjab, Vidarbha and Goa.
Earlier, resuming on 207/2 after being followed-on in their second essay, Himachal were shown the way by youngster Khanduri, who batted for six hours 36 minutes in his second successive halfcentury of the match.
Overnight duo of Khanduri and Gangta stood to their tasks with respective halfcenturies in a 93-run third wicket partnership as Himachal trailed past Bengal.
Gangta scored his 50 off 74 balls while the opener Khanduri looked solid as the home team's pace trio of Shami, Dinda and Mukesh toiled hard for the first breakthrough.
It was in the seventh over of the day, Shami gave the opening in the form of Gangta who took an inside edge behind the stumps.
Playing only his fourth first-class match, Khanduri, who has a century against Goa, however could not make a second triple figure after Bengal took the second new-ball in the 80th over.
Khanduri edged one to wicketkeeper Saha behind his legs off the bowling Dinda who also dismissed Paras Dogra (6) while Shami made it 300/7 with the wicket of Amit Kumar (14).

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