Bengal registered 9-wicket victory over Jharkhand, while Karnataka defeated Uttarakhand by an innings and 281 runs
Packed with impact bowlers, a formidable Bengal demolished Jharkhand by nine wickets inside four days to progress to the Ranji Trophy semi-finals for the third time in a row on Friday.
Bengal had played the final in the 2019-20 season and after a COVID-induced break, the team qualified for the semi-finals last year when it lost to eventual champions Madhya Pradesh.
In fact, defending champions Madhya Pradesh, which has been Bengal’s ”bogey team” for quite a few years, is again pitted against Manoj Tiwary’s men.
Starting the day at 162 for 7, Jharkhand’s lower-order, led by Supriyo Chakraborty (41) did delay the inevitable for just about 15 plus overs in the morning before being shot out for 221.
The target of 67 was more of a romp for India A skipper Abhimanyu Easwaran (28 not out) and in-form Sudip Gharami (26 not out) as the umpires extended the first session to allow Bengal complete formalities in 12.4 overs after they lost opener Kazi Junaid Saifi.
Under new head coach Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Bengal’s pacers Akash Deep (match figures 6/108), Mukesh Kumar (match figures 4/94), Ishan Porel (match figures 2/90) shared 12 wickets amongst themselves.
Rookie Akash Ghatak (match figures 4/36) and seasoned left-arm spin bowling all-rounder Shahbaz Ahmed (2/45 and 81 runs) also played the supporting role to perfection.
Match referee Daniel Manohar’s decision to award the ‘Player of the Match’ award to Akash Deep was fully justified as he set up the match for Bengal on the first day itself when Jharkhand were bowled out for 173 in just 66.2 overs. Akash was the wrecker-in-chief with 4/62 and Bengal never looked back after that.
This year’s Ranji Trophy could be a special one for Bengal as skipper Tiwary, also a junior Sports Minister in the Trinamool Congress-run state government, is likely to call it quits if they lift the elusive trophy after 33 years.
For that, Bengal’s pace unit needs to continue firing and produce the goods like it has been doing for the past three seasons.
A unit that has more often than not kept rival teams in the 300-run first innings range for the majority of the last three seasons (current one included) will always be respected by the opposition.
In Mukesh, Akash, and Ishan, Bengal have found another potent seam and swing bowling unit after Ranadeb Bose, Shib Shankar Paul and the tireless Ashoke Dinda tormented the opposition between 2005-2008.
Bengal played back-to-back Ranji Trophy finals without winning one. The current troika has already played one final and one semi-final but the players would like to finish one better this time.
Karnataka register innings win over Uttarakhand
Eight-time champions Karnataka dominated with both bat and ball as they thrashed Uttarakhand by an innings and 281 runs to enter the semifinals of the Ranji Trophy on Friday.
Resuming at their overnight score of 106 for 3 after following on, Uttarakhand batters could add just 103 runs before being bowled out for 209 in 73.4 overs on the fourth day of the quarterfinal match.
Swapnil Singh (51 off 100 balls) top-scored for Uttarakhand.
Shreyas Gopal turned out to be the star for Karnataka, as, after making an unbeaten 161 with the bat in his team’s massive first innings total of 606, he returned with figures of 3/26 in Uttarakhand’s second essay to claim the player-of-the-match honour.
Besides Gopal, Vijaykumar Vyshak (3/55), Vidwath Kaverappa (2/30) and M Venkatesh (2/44) also chipped in with wickets.
Earlier, electing to bowl, Karnataka shone bright with the ball to bundle out Uttarakhand for a paltry 116 in their first innings.
Right-arm pacer Venkatesh was the wrecker-in-chief then, claiming five wickets for 36 runs.
In reply, Karnataka batters made merry against Uttarakhand’s pedestrian bowling attack with Ravikumar Samarth (82), skipper Mayank Agarwal (83), Devdutt Padikkal (69), Nikin Jose (62) all scoring half-centuries, besides Gopal’s unbeaten ton.
Karnataka would be looking to add to their eight Ranji titles and reclaim the elite domestic crown after the 2014-15 season.
Brief Scores: Jharkhand 173 and 221 in 63.5 overs (Aryaman Sen 64, Akash Deep 2/46, Akash Ghatak 3/21, Shahbaz Ahmed 2/45). Bengal 328 and (target 67) 69/1 in 12.4 overs (Abhimanyu Easwaran 28 not out, S Gharami 26 not out). Bengal won by 9 wickets. Qualify for Semi-final; Uttarakhand: 116 and 209 all out in 73.4 overs (Swapnil Singh 51, Dikshanshu Negi 29; Shreyas Gopal 3/26, Vijaykumar Vyshak 3/55) lost to Karnataka 606 in 162.5 overs (Shreyas Gopal 161 not out, Mayank Agarwal 83, Ravikumar Samarth 82, Devdutt Padikkal 69, Nikin Jose 62; Abhay Negi 4/109, Mayank Mishra 3/117, Swapnil Singh 2/118).
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