CHENNAI: Shahbaz Ahmed delivered a brilliant all-round performance as Bengal defeated Tamil Nadu by 43 runs in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy in Lucknow on Sunday.
Electing to bat first in the Elite Group E match, Bengal posted 164 for six, courtesy of a final flourish from Shahbaz, who remained unbeaten on 42 off 27 deliveries (3 fours, 2 sixes). In the second innings, left-arm spinner Shahbaz (3/13 off 4 overs) picked up three crucial wickets to restrict the double defending champion to 121 for nine.
Having suffered its second defeat in four matches, Tamil Nadu is fourth in the group with eight points and is in serious danger of getting knocked out in the first round. Meanwhile, the unbeaten Bengal is second in the pile with 10 points from three games.
In the first essay, opener Abhimanyu Easwaran (38 off 36 balls, 3 fours), Sudip Kumar Gharami (27 off 14 balls, 3 fours, 1 six) and Ritwik Roy Chowdhury (32 off 29 balls, 1 four, 1 six) laid the foundation for Shahbaz to cut loose at the end. Easwaran and Gharami accumulated 64 runs off just 33 deliveries for the second wicket while Ritwik and Shahbaz shared 43 runs off 36 balls for the fifth.
Vice-captain and off-spinner Washington Sundar (2/24) was the pick of the Tamil Nadu bowlers, with left-arm orthodox R Sai Kishore (1/20) also impressing.
In the chase, opening batter B Sai Sudharsan (64 off 48 balls, 4 fours, 2 sixes) waged a lone battle for Tamil Nadu that could muster only 121 for nine. Sai Sudharsan and skipper Baba Aparajith (16), who were involved in Tamil Nadu’s highest partnership of 33 runs for the second wicket, were the only batters to manage double-digit scores.
Shahbaz accounted for the trio of Aparajith, Sanjay Yadav (0) and Washington (4) while fellow left-arm spinner Pradipta Pramanik (2/13) cleaned up Sai Sudharsan.