Shillong, Dec 29: Cricket’s ability to turn up incredible results was on show today as Meghalaya snatched victory from almost certain defeat by beating Arunachal Pradesh by one wicket in their U-19 Cooch Behar Trophy match after a phenomenal chase.
Resuming their second innings in Bhubaneshwar on 91/6, chasing 223 for victory, Meghalaya’s lower order put up a sensational fight to claim the four points and, with it, second place in the Plate Group, only behind Arunachal, for whom this was the first defeat of the season.
Rohit Yadav, not out overnight on 19, batted for another 57 deliveries today but could only add another seven runs to his tally. The responsibility was taken up by Manish Sharma (51) and PM Santhosh (61 not out), both of whom have delivered this season with the ball but today demonstrated what they can do with the willow as well.
The pair put on 55 runs for the eighth wicket to get Meghalaya to 178, but that still left the team 45 to win. Santhosh received tremendous support from Navin Kumar Ray (3 off 35 deliveries) and Gavineal Marpna (2 off 13), who stoutly resisted the Arunachal bowlers as Santhosh knocked off the required runs.
Ray fell with the score on 196 with just the one wicket remaining. There was therefore little room for error and Arunachal made it more difficult by not conceding a single extra, meaning that Santhosh and Marpna had to do it all with the bat.
The nail-biting chase ended a little after lunch for one of Meghalaya’s best victories across any competition this year. This was the last of five matches for the U-19 boys and their third win in a row. Meghalaya had started the tournament with two defeats but turned things around brilliantly thanks to the hard work of the players and support staff and this win, against the best team in the group, made sure they ended in the best possible fashion.
Individually, Kevin Christopher finished seventh in the list of batters with the most runs, with 490 in five matches. Sharma, meanwhile, was sixth for most wickets (34 at an average of 14.20) while Purav Agarwal was ninth with 30 (10.90 average). Both took four five-wicket hauls each for Meghalaya.