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    Winning start for India A in Challenger trophy

    Rajkot: Shikhar Dhawan remained unbeaten on 99 after Ishant Sharma returned a four-wicket haul as India A thrashed Bengal by eight wickets in the opening cricket match of the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy, here on Sunday.

    It was all round performance by India A as they bundled out Bengal to a modest 193 and then overhauled the target with 12.4 overs to spare. Skipper Wriddhiman Saha was top scorer with his 65-run knock while Arnab Nandi (43) Jayojit Basu (42) were the other notable scorers for Bengal.

    Ishant (4 for 29) and spinner Pragyan Ojha (3 for 40) shared seven wickets between them as Bengal batsmen struggled to score against the pace-spin duo.

    Ojha removed Jayojit and Sandipan Das to hand India 'A' a good start while Ishant scalped Saha, Debabrata Das (1), Sourav Sarkar (0) and Subomoy Das (9).

    India A lost opener Robin Uthappa (25) early but left-handed Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane (63) shared a match-winning 150-run stand for the second wicket to crush Bengal's hopes of making a comeback.

    The stand was broken by Basu, who caught Rahane off his own bowling. Rahane's knock came off 84 balls and with five shots to the fence. Dhawan paced his innings well as he took 112 balls for his knock, which was studded with 12 boundaries.

    Skipper S Badrinath (6) remained unbeaten with Dhawan to steer side home comfortably.

    Brief Scores:

    Bengal: 193 all out in 41.1 overs (W Saha 65, A Nandi 43; I Sharma 4 for 29, P Ojha 3 for 40).

    India A: 196 for 2 in 37.2 overs. (S Dhawan 99 not out, A Rahane 63; J Basu 1 for 16).