Bihar cruise into Ranji Trophy Plate Group final after defeating Meghalaya

Shillong, Jan 20: Bihar defeated Meghalaya by a huge margin of 302 runs on the morning of the fourth day of their Ranji Trophy Plate Group semifinal match at the MCA Ground here today.

Resuming the day’s play on 23/1 in search of a further 436 runs to win, Meghalaya were demolished for 156 in a single session.

It was a remarkable change of scene from the round robin stage, where Meghalaya finished as the top team; one of their four victories had been against the same opponents at the same venue last month.

This time, however, Bihar dominated from the first day, after amassing a total of 428 and then bowling out the hosts for 134. Bihar were then out for 164 in their second innings yesterday but that left Meghalaya chasing a mammoth 459 for victory, which proved far out of reach.

Raj Biswa top-scored at the top of the order with 28 as no batter was able to push on even after getting a start. There were some late order heroics from Akash K Choudhury (17), Dippu Ch Sangma (22) and Abhishek Kumar (17) but it was just delaying the inevitable. Dippu was still nursing an injury picked up in the field on the opening day, so he dealt in boundaries until feathering an edge into the wicketkeeper’s gloves.

He, Choudhury and Kumar hit 11 fours between them, as many as all the other eight other batters combined.

For his score of 177 and work behind the stumps throughout, Bihar’s Bipin Saurabh was named Player of the Match. Victory means that Bihar have not only qualified for the Plate Group final, where they will meet Manipur (who defeated Sikkim in the other semifinal), but will also play in an elite group next season.

Although they will be disappointed with the defeat, Meghalaya have had some remarkable success this season. Chief among them was winning three matches even after conceding first innings leads to their opponents. Guest professional Rajesh Bishnoi is the second-highest wicket taker of the tournament, with 39 scalps from six matches, while Choudhury (20) and Kumar (18) are 46th and 63rd respectively, having each played five matches.

Batting, on the other hand, proved to be more difficult as Meghalaya were only twice able to hit 300 or more runs in an innings. Nevertheless, guest professional Punit Bisht topped the state list with 426 runs, though this was only 46th-highest in the country this season.

For Meghalaya, though, the other big milestone was being able to host first-class cricket once again at the MCA Ground in Polo, which came with much praise from match officials, opponents and the BCCI for the standard of the ground, facilities and efforts of the MCA staff and officials.

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