Bengal thrash Karnataka to enter Ranji final after 13 years

Kolkata:  Fast bowler Mukesh Kumar bagged his career-best six-wicket haul as Bengal defeated Karnataka by 174 runs to enter their first Ranji Trophy final in 13 years at the Eden Gardens on Tuesday.

Chasing 352, the star-studded Karnataka batting line-up bowed down before Mukesh as his 6/61 as Bengal took less than two hours to dismiss Karnataka on Day Four of the semi-final match.

Resuming at 98/3, Karnataka lost their remaining seven wickets for 79 runs in 16.3 overs. Bengal required only 115 minutes wrapping up the Karnataka innings and making it to their first Ranji final since 2007.

The low-profile Bengal pacer made India batsman Manish Pandey (12) his first scalp as he got him caught by Shreevats Goswami behind the stumps. In his next over, Mukesh dismissed K. V. Siddharth (0) and S. Sharath (0) off successive deliveries.

Devdutt Padikkal, who came in at No. 3 to accommodate K.L. Rahul at the top, hit seven elegant boundaries and made 62 runs before Mukesh got him out.

Krishnappa Gowtham (22) and Abhimanyu Mithun tried to counter-attack and added 24 runs for the eighth wicket. However, it was first innings hero Ishan Porel who broke the partnership.

Gowtham, who tried to go for a maximum, was caught by substitute Shreyan Chakraborty.

After that, Akash Deep (2/6) cleaned up the big-hitting Abhimanyu Mithun (38) to complete the victory.

At the Eden, all eyes were on in-form India batsman Rahul who was not picked for the Test squad in New Zealand despite scoring heavily in white-ball cricket. Rahul had a point to prove in the five-day format and the stage was set for him to make a mark.

But he failed in both innings, getting out on 26 in the first essay and then being trapped in front by Ishan Porel off just the second ball of his innings. On a day when India was drubbed 0-2 by the Kiwis in Christchurch after they lost the second Test by seven wickets, Rahul’s woeful return did not make good reading and went for a duck.

Anustup Majumdar, who scored a brilliant 149 for Bengal in the first innings, was declared the Man of the Match.

The last time Bengal played a Ranji final (2006-07), current BCCI President Sourav Ganguly and Bengal’s present bowling coach Ranadeb Bose were in the playing XI.

They will now play either Gujarat or Saurashtra in the final to be played from March 9.

Brief Scores: Bengal: 312 and 161 all out; Karnataka: 122 and 177 all out (Devdutt Paddikkal 62; Mukesh Kumar 6/61)


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