Bengal qualified for yet another Ranji Trophy quarter-final after defeating Haryana by an inning and 50 runs at Rohtak in Haryana. Akash Deep shone with the ball with his first 10 wicket-haul in first-class cricket after Anustup Majumdar's first-inning heroics with the bat (145). But, team Bengal does not want to get carried away with wins like this and will only celebrate once they win the Ranji Trophy.
"It is a great feeling to get my first 10-wicket haul in first-class cricket. But, I need to keep the momentum for the rest of the tournament," Akash Deep said to Sportz Point just after being adjudged "Player of the match."
The pace trio of Bengal, i.e; Mukesh Kumar, Ishan Porel and Akash Deep have been considered one of the best in the country and Akash knows it well. "Yes, we have been very good whenever we played together. We complement each other well. Mukesh bhai's (Kumar) inclusion in the team has made us stronger as a bowling unit," Akash Deep expressed.
Although wickets seemed to come easily in the first inning for Bengal and Akash Deep, the scene was not the same in the second innings. After bowling them out for 163 in the first inning, Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary asked Haryana batters to follow on.
The second inning did not start that well for Bengal. Haryana openers Chaitanya Bishnoi and Yuvraj Singh started to look solid in their defence and put up a 129-run partnership for the first wicket. But, Bengal's bowling unit knew once the door gets open for them, it will not be easy for the opponent to tackle them.
"We knew they will not have patience once we get the first wicket. Yes, the pitch became a bit easy for batting in the second inning. It was a tad slow and the ball got softer as well."
"It was about believing that if we can get one wicket, more will come eventually. Ishan and Mukesh bhai were superb with the ball as well," Akash Deep added.
It was Ishan Porel who broke the door for them with two wickets in a single over to remove Chaitanya and Ankit Kumar. Mukesh Kumar and Akash Deep took the momentum from there on.
It is observed that whenever this Bengal team gets punched, they come back like champions and keep punching until they win the bout. Akash Deep has been one of the enforcers for captain Manoj Tiwary with pace and bounce in the middle overs. The important thing is that he loves that responsibility.
"I love the fact that Manoj bhai (Tiwary) and the team has the faith in me. Ishan (Porel) and Mukesh (Kumar) bhai take the new ball. Most of the time they open up the game for us. But, when that does not happen, I know my role is to take wickets with pace and aggression," Akash Deep elaborated.
With everything going well for him as a bowler, the 26-year-old medium pacer wants to emerge as one of the valuable all-rounders for Bengal. "I know the difference between a 300 and a 360. So, if I can score 15-20 or 30 it makes a huge difference in the match. I am constantly working on my batting to contribute with the bat in hand," he added.
"Good win yes but we have a long way to go. There is no place for complacency. There is no place for celebration. We need to work hard and fight together as a team," Bengal coach Laxmi Ratan Shukla said via CAB media right after the win and Akash Deep echos his thoughts.
"Abhi vi bahut lamba jana hai. Main goal Ranji Trophy jitna hi hai. Jitke hi celebrate karenge (Still a long way to go. Main goal is to win the Ranji Trophy. We will celebrate after winning the tournament)," Akash Deep told Sportz Point.
Bengal is now at the top of "Elite Group A" with 25 points and will face Odhisa in their next match at Eden Gardens from 24th of January.
Bengal 419 (Anustup Majumdar 145)
Haryana 163 (Akash Deep 61/5)
Haryana 206 (Akash Deep 51/5)
Bengal earned 7 points.