Kolkata: A century plus opening partnership between Amit Paunikar and Shivakant Shukla powered Railways to a five wicket win over hosts Bengal in the Vijay Hazare Trophy here Friday to set up a final clash with Karnataka.
The southern state made the cut for Sunday's summit clash by inflicting a 21-run defeat on Jharkhand in the semifinal.
Opting to bat on winning the toss, Bengal gave yet another display of poor batsmanship to fold up for 185 in 47.4 overs at the Eden Gardens. In reply, Railways coasted to 188/5 in only 38.2 overs.
Sent in to the middle, Karnataka rode on Robin Uthappa's ton (133; 186 mins, 135 b, 12x4, 4x6) to amass 323/6 at the Jadavpur University stadium. Mayank Agarwal (66) and Lokesh Rahul (67) were the other principal scorers for Karnataka, while Jharkhand medium pacer Rahul Shukla finished with 3/59.
Jharkhand's Ishank Jaggi carried the fight into the opposition camp with a lustily hit century (141; 179 mins, 121 b, 16x4, 1x6), but that was not enough to take his side to the final.
When Jaggi got out, Jahrkhand were 220/3 in 37.2 overs, needing 104 runs of 76 deliveries. But the middle and the late order proved unequal to the talks, and Jharkhand could only reach 302/9 by the time their allotted overs ended.
For Railways, pacer Vinay Kumar finished with 4/75.
In the Bengal innings, only five players reached double figures. Manoj Tiwary (61) was the highest scorer, and the only one to crack a half century. Right arm pacer Chanderpal Saini (3/25) was the most successful Railway bowler.
Railway openers Paunikar (83) and Shukla (56) put on 109 runs for the first wicket to pave the way for their side's victory. Bengal's Veer Pratap Singh claimed three wickets.