Eight-time champions Karnataka were on Monday ousted from the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy, their third semi-final loss in three consecutive years. An intense 4-day contest witnessed both teams battling it out for the ultimate finale spot but it was two-time winners Bengal who had the last laugh. This will be their first Ranji final since the 2006-07 season. The last time they won the title was way back in 1989-90.
The stage was set. At the picturesque Eden Gardens in Kolkata, Karnataka had their eyes set on a historic treble, having already clinched the Vijay Hazare Trophy and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy this year. But in a surprising turn of events, hosts Bengal put the pedal to the metal and delivered the knockout punch to perfection.
Majumdar, Porel bring their A-Game
In their first innings, Bengal’s batting line-up was pegged back by some fine bowling performances from the visitors. But one man stood tall like a rock and defied all odds. With his fighting 149, Anustup Majumdar took Bengal from a reeling position (67/6) to a respectable total of 312. Abhimanyu Mithun and Ronit More bagged three wickets each, while Prasidh Krishna (2/78) and K Gowtham (2/90) played the perfect supporting roles. Yet, they couldn’t stop the Majumdar juggernaut that helped Bengal gain a huge advantage.
That winning feeling! ??
— BCCI Domestic (@BCCIdomestic) March 3, 2020
Karnataka’s famed batting order didn’t benefit much from KL Rahul’s inclusion. The Karnataka opener couldn’t go after the Bengal bowlers who showed tremendous discipline and bowled according to their plans. Rahul, who consumed 67 balls for his 26, only struck a couple of boundaries before finally falling to another pacer, Mukesh Kumar.
From the other end, pacer Ishan Porel wreaked havoc at regular intervals and ended up with impressive figures of 5/39. Karnataka were eventually bundled for a paltry 122 in their first innings.
Karnataka fold on Day 4
Capitalising on a healthy first-innings lead, Bengal piled on 161 more runs to their total even as Mithun and Gowtham kept applying the brakes. Needing a steep 352 to win the semi-final, Karnataka had their backs against the wall from the word get-go. This time, it was Porel who drew first blood by trapping Rahul for a 2-ball duck. Mukesh Kumar then bagged a brilliant six-wicket to ensure the visitors had no chance coming back into the game.
Batsman Devdutt Padikkal offered some resistance with his gritty 62 but the Karnataka ship had started sinking by then. Padikkal couldn’t add much to his overnight fifty and was caught behind off Mukesh’s bowling. It took Bengal just 17.3 overs on day 4 to wrap up a faltering Karnataka.