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Kerala crush Bengal, jump to third spot

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Thumba (Kerala), Feb 12 (PTI) Veteran all-rounder Jalaj Saxena grabbed a match haul of 13 wickets on a rank-turner as Kerala crushed Bengal by 109 runs to taste their first win of the ongoing Ranji Trophy season here on Monday.

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The win propelled Kerala (14) to third in the Group B table behind leaders Mumbai (30) and Andhra (25).

This was Bengal's second successive defeat of the season as the last edition's runners-up slipped to sixth spot and their knockout qualification hopes are as good as over. Bengal had endured an innings defeat to Mumbai at home in their previous outing.

The spin-bowling all-rounder Saxena followed up his 9/68 in the first innings to pocket 4/104 as Bengal were bowled out for 339 in their tough chase of 449 runs.

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Opener Abhimanyu Easwaran completed his second fifty of the match after Bengal resumed the day on 77/2. But Saxena gave the breakthrough first dismissing Anustup Majumdar (16) and then halted Abhimanyu's patient innings for 65 (119b).

Playing his penultimate match of his career, veteran Manoj Tiwary also became Saxena's victim falling cheaply for 35. Tiwary has announced that he will finally call it a day after Bengal's last league match against Bihar at Eden Gardens from February 16.

Returning to action after a two-month injury layoff, Bengal premier all-rounder Shahbaz Ahmed was the lone warrior for as he chipped in with an entertaining 100-ball 80 (8x4, 2x6).

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Karan Lal gave him support with a 78-ball 40 in an 83-run alliance for the seventh wicket.

But it was just a formality for the visitors with Basil Thampi (2/8 from 2.4 overs) wiping out the tail, first by effecting the run-out of India Test-bound Akash Deep and then dismissing Shahbaz.

Rahane slams fifty, Mumbai log 3 pts ======================= In Raipur, veteran India batter Ajinkya Rahane struck his first fifty of Ranji Trophy season, as his 56 not out helped Mumbai bag three points by virtue of their first innings lead over hosts Chhattisgarh.

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Resuming the day on 97/1 with an overall 98 run lead, Mumbai declared their second essay on 253/6 as both the skippers, Rahane and Amandeep Khare, agreed for a draw before the tea break.

For the home side, left-arm spinner Ajay Mandal returned with 5/63 but that was not enough to bowl Mumbai out.

The sidelined India batter, Rahane's previous scores in this year Ranji Trophy has been 0, 0, 16, 8, 9 and 1. This was his first fifty in nine innings as the Mumbai skipper scored a 78 against Tripura in the Vijay Hazare Trophy in December last year.

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Assam secure first win of season ==================== In Guwahati, Assam also secured their first win of the season, defeating Bihar by nine wickets. Assam now have eight points from six matches, three ahead of bottom-rung Bihar in the eight-team Group B standings.

The day's hero was left-arm spinner Rahul Singh who claimed 5/49 as Bihar were bowled out for 292 following on.

It gave Assam an easy target of 95 as the home side cantered home in 14.2 overs with opener Parvej Musaraf remaining unbeaten on 52, his second fifty of the match.

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Brief Scores In Thumba: Kerala 363 and 265/6 declared. Bengal 180 and 339; 87.4 overs (Shahbaz Ahmed 80, Abhimanyu Easwaran 65, Karan Lal 40). Kerala won by 109 runs. Points: Kerala 6, Bengal 0.

In Raipur: Mumbai 351 and 253/6 declared (Bhupen Lalwani 59, Ajinkya Rahane 56 not out, Prithvi Shaw 45, Shardul Thakur 31; Ajay Mandal 5/65). Chhattisgarh 350. Match drawn, Mumbai take first innings lead. Points: Mumbai 3, Chhattisgarh 1.

In Guwahati: Assam 405 and 100/1; 14.2 overs (Parvej Musaraf 52 not out). Bihar 207 and following on 292; 121 overs (Piyush Singh 103, Bipin Saurabh 44; Rahul Singh 5/49). Assam won by nine wickets. Points: Assam 6, Bihar 0.

In Vizianagaram: Andhra 261 and 429/9; 145 overs (Ricky Bhui 129, Shaik Rasheed 85, Nitish Kumar Reddy 53 not out, Hanuma Vihari 48; Saurabh Kumar 5/116). Match drawn, Andhra take first innings lead. Points: Andhra 3, UP 1. PTI TAP TAP APA APA

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