Ranji Trophy 2021-22 – Ben vs Jha

When Sayan Mondal, Bengal’s No. 8 batter, reached his half-century first ball after lunch on the third day of their Ranji Trophy 2021-22 quarter-final against Jharkhand, it became the first instance of the top-eight batters of a team scoring at least fifty runs in a first-class innings. They went one better, as Akash Deep, the big-hitting fast bowler, smashed an 18-ball 53 not out, with eight sixes, from No. 9 – the first time nine batters, in sequence or not, have scored at least 50 in a first-class innings.
When Mondal got to his milestone, it matched the record of the Australian tourists to England in 1893, when they had eight batters scoring at least a half-century in their first innings against Oxford and Cambridge Universities. But, on that occasion, it those eight weren’t the top eight batters.
For Bengal, the party started at the top when openers Abhimanyu Easwaran, the captain, and Abhishek Raman got going, slowly but steadily. The two batted together till the 25th over, scoring 88 runs together, before Raman had to retire hurt when on 41. Abhimanyu carried on, in the company of Sudip Kumar Gharami, before becoming the first man to be dismissed, for 65.
Bengal had their most productive phase after that, as Gharami, playing his fifth first-class match, and Anustup Majumdar, with 67 first-class appearances before this one, putting together 243 runs. Both of them scored centuries, before Majumdar fell for 117. That brought the opener Raman back to the crease, and he added 20 more to his personal total, becoming the third to be dismissed, for 61.

Gharami, who beat his previous first-class best of 27 by a distance, fell against the run of play when on 186, adjudged to have nicked a Rahul Shukla delivery down the leg side to wicketkeeper Kumar Kushagra.

Cue another century stand, this time between the veteran Manoj Tiwary and newcomer Abishek Porel, the wicketkeeper. They added 109 for the fifth wicket before Porel fell for 68, and Tiwary was the next to go, for 73.
The top six out of the way, Jharkhand might have entertained hopes of a quick finish, but Shahbaz Ahmed and Mondal then took over, and Bengal found another century stand, of 101 runs, which ended when Shahbaz under-edged the other Shahbaz, Nadeem, behind to walk back for 78. Mondal went to the lunch break on the third day on 49, having ceded the centre stage to Akash Deep, the No. 9, who had walked out and biffed four sixes in an unbeaten eight-ball 24 by that stage. He hit four more, after Mondal had achieved his milestone, and Bengal declared on 773 for 7 immediately after.
Prior to the Bengal-Jharkhand game, being played at the Just Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, there had been 27 occasions when seven 50-plus scores had been recorded in a first-class innings, according to Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians records. Of those, three had come in the Ranji Trophy: for Maharashtra against Northern India in 1940-41, for Holkar against Mysore in 1945-46, and for Bengal against Bihar in 1996-97.

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