DEFIANT KNOCK: Anoop Pai scored a determined century as Hyderabad held off Bengal on the final day.
Hyderabad found a hero in S. Anoop Pai. The 22-year old left-hander, playing his third Ranji Trophy match, held centrestage with a responsible unbeaten 119 on the fourth and final day of the four-day Super League elite group B engagement against Bengal at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday.
Pai, in the company of Arjun Yadav (53) and Amol Shinde (33), not only denied Bengal an outright victory but also earned his team a vital point.
The young and inexperienced Hyderabad team indeed showed a lot of grit and fighting spirit against heavy odds. Having not done well in the first innings and forced to follow-on, these three middle-order batsmen ensured Hyderabad reach 302 for six in the second essay to draw the game. The match was called off after the second mandatory over.
Appreciating the team’s effort to deny Bengal the victory, captain V.V.S. Laxman praised the younger lot. “It is heartening indeed to see the youngsters show a lot of competitiveness. I am sure this experience will stand them in good stead this season,” he said.
From Bengal’s point of view, the pitch proved to be the villain. It hardly behaved like a fourth day wicket and gave ample time for the batsmen to negotiate whatever turn the pitch offered. Bengal earned three points for taking the first innings lead while Hyderabad got one point for forcing the draw.