There is no stopping this Hyderabad team, from crashing to humiliating defeats, that is.
The latest one came at the Bengal Academy Cricket Ground on Tuesday. And it came with a day to spare; that shouldnt be a surprise, though the visitors had started the third day with five first-innings wickets still intact.
So if the match had to end on the penultimate day, the visitors had to lose as many as 15 wickets. They showed they were perfectly capable of that, gifting the host a much-needed victory, with a bonus point to boot.
The win by an innings and 303 runs has put Bengal back in the reckoning for a place in the quarterfinals. It has in fact moved to the second position with 19 points, just two behind the leader Andhra.
That also tells us how the times have changed. Andhra used to be the poor cricketing cousin of Hyderabad, which is now struggling to avoid relegation after losing five of its six matches. With six points, it is placed at the bottom of combined Groups of A and B, featuring 18 teams in all.
If it has to stay on among the elite teams, it has to bat better than it did here. Granted, Bengal bowled exceptionally well, especially its two seamers Akash Deep and Mukesh Kumar, but it was too good a wicket for a side to be dismissed for 171 and 161.
And this was a wicket on which one batsman alone Manish Tiwary made 303 in one innings, without getting dismissed. Come to think of it, he scored just 29 runs less than what all the 11 batsmen managed together, from two innings. Only Javeed Ali, who made 72 (108b, 12x4) in the first innings, and Ravi Teja who scored 53 (86b, 8x4, 1x6) in the second, showed some fight.
The day began disastrously, with Hyderabad losing a wicket off the fourth ball of the day. Captain Tanmay Agarwal was bowled by a ball that swung in from Mukesh.
The only break in the procession of the batsmen to the dressing came during the 10-minute interval between the two Hyderabad innings. The first one was ended in dramatic fashion with Shahbaz Ahmed taking a hat-trick.
The left-arm spinner isnt a big turner of the ball, but his steady line and length was enough. Akash and Mukesh did the rest.
Bengal Ist Innings: 635 for seven decl.
Hyderabad Ist Innings: Tanay Thyagarajan c Abhimanyu b Akash 7, Akshath Reddy c Arnab b Akash 2, T. Ravi Teja b Mukesh 12, Rahul Buddhi c Goswami b Akash 11, B. Sandeep c Goswami b Mukesh 13, Jaweed Ali b Shahbaz 72, Tanmay Agarwal b Mukesh 10, K. Sumanth lbw b Shahbaz 10, Saaketh Sai Ram lbw Shahbaz 19, Ravi Kiran lbw b Shahbaz 0, Mehdi Hasan (not out) 6, ; Extras ( b-8, nb-1) 9; Total (in 46.3 overs): 171.
Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-14, 3-30, 4-54, 5-54, 6-73, 7-144, 8-171, 9-171.
Bengal bowling: Mukesh 15-4-37-3, Akash 15-1-66-3, Shahbaz 8.3-3-26-4, Shreyan 3-0-12-0, Nandi 5-0-21-0.
Hyderabad 2nd Innings: Tanmay Agarwal lbw b Akash 5, Akshath Reddy b Shahbaz 20, Rahul Buddhi lbw b Akash 0, Jaweed Ali (run out) 13, B. Sandeep b Nandi 18, T. Ravi Teja c Tiwary b Mukesh 53, Saaketh Sai Ram (not out) 11, K. Sumanth b Akash 5, Tanay Thyagarajan lbw b Akash 4, Mehdi Hasan (run out) 0, Ravi Kiran c Saifi b Shahbaz 17; Extras (b-8, lb-6, w-1) 15; Total (in 46.2 overs): 161.
Fall of wickets: 1-11, 2-17, 3-39, 4-56, 5-92, 6-134, 7-139, 8-143, 9-143.
Bengal bowling: Mukesh 11-3-29-1, Akash 9-1-38-4, Shahbaz 11.2-2-51-2, Nandi 10-3-10-1, Shreyan 5-1-19-0.