Railways enter Ranji Trophy finals

Published: Monday, March 21, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Opener Amit Pagnis scored an unbeaten 98 as Railways defeated Hyderabad by seven wickets to secure their third final entry in five years in the Ranji Trophy tournament.

After an indifferent display on the first two days of the Elite Division clash, the hosts were back in their element as they bowled out Hyderabad for 170 runs before achieving the target of 157 runs 45 minutes after tea on the third day itself.

The 2002 champions, who will feature in the summit clash for the fourth time in the Ranji trophy history, would now await the winners of the other semifinal between holders Mumbai and Punjab.

It was a much improved performance by Railways as their batsman showed better discipline in the middle with Pagnis leading the run chase.

The left-handed opener, who used to play for Mumbai before joining the Railways, first had a 72-run partnership for the opening wicket with his skipper Sanjay Bangar (19) and after the team lost three wickets in the space of eight runs, he kept his composure to take his team to victory.

Railway coach Vinod Sharma also underlined the importance of Pagnis's innings when he termed it as "invaluable".

"Pragyan Ojha was troubling our batsmen and we needed somebody to not only counter him but also unsettle the bowler. Pagnis played a gem of a knock. An invaluable innings for the team," Sharma said.

Pagnis was ably supported by Yere Goud (22 not out) as the latter used his feet very well in thwarting the spinners, who had been the main tormentors of Railways in the first innings.

Earlier, resuming at 131 for five, Hyderabad lost wickets at regular interval to be bowled out for just 170 runs.

Harvinder Singh was the pick of the Railway bowlers as he made full use of the early morning moisture, which had forced the umpires to begin the match 22 minutes late.

He first claimed the wickets of wicketkeeper-batsman Ibrahim Khaleel and then wrapped up the Hyderabad innings by clean bowling N P Singh and Ojha to finish with figures of three for 32.

He had taken four wickets in the first innings.

The only Hyderabad batsman to show some resitance was the experienced Daniel Manohar, who scored a fighting 75 in 250 balls, before he was dismissed leg before wicket by Kartik. The left arm spinner claimed a total of three wickets for 48 runs.

The match also turned out to be a good one for debutant Ojha, as he took seven wickets for 113 in the match.

Sharma was also happy that his team had shown tremendous resilience to make it to the final after they were staring at relegation after having just two points from four matches.

Railways captain Bangar paid tributes to the bowling department saying it not only bailed them out from a precarious situation but also won them the match.

"We bowled really well and that has been the key. Harvinder is in great form and J P Yadav is supporting him well.

The hero of the day, Pagnis, said his only intention was to stay at the wicket till the end as he knew that if he managed that they could wrap up the tie.

He was, however, disappointed at missing on the hundred as the winning six off leg- spinner P Niranjan was not enough for him to reach the three figure mark.

"I once thought of trying to go for that. But there was no point in delaying the win and hence I decided to go for a six and finish the match when I got a flighted delivery," he said.

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