A round-up of Day 4 of the Ranji Trophy quarter-finals on Friday.
Karnataka rout Uttarakhand, enter semis
Eight-time champions Karnataka dominated with both bat and ball as they thrashed Uttarakhand by an innings and 281 runs to enter the semi-finals of the Ranji Trophy in Bengaluru on Friday.
Resuming at their overnight score of 106/3 after being asked to follow on, Uttarakhand batters could add just 103 runs before being bowled out for 209 in 73.4 overs on the fourth day of the quarter-final match.
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. Swapnil Singh (51 off 100 balls) top-scored for Uttarakhand.
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), skippeer 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.
Uttarakhand: 116 and 209 all out in 73.4 overs (Swapnil Singh 51, ; 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).
Bengal thrash Jharkhand; storm into semis
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, in Kolkata.
Bengal had played the final in the 2019-20 season and after the Covid-19 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 is Bengal's 'bogey team' for quite a few years, is again pitted against Manoj Tiwary's men.
Starting the day on 162/7, 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.
Jharkhand 173 and 221 in 63.5 overs (Aryaman Sen 64; Akash Ghatak 3/21, Shahbaz Ahmed 2/45) vs Bengal 328 and69/1 in 12.4 overs (Abhimanyu Easwaran 28 not out, S Gharami 26 not out).
MP rally to beat Andhra
Riding on half-centuries from opener Yash Dubey and Rajat Patidar, defending champions Madhya Pradesh completed their remarkable fightback as they beat Andhra by five wickets to enter the Ranji Trophy semi-finals in Indore.
After conceding a big first innings lead of 151, MP bounced back on the third day on Thursday by bowling out Andhra for a mere 93 in 32.3 overs in the visiting side's second innings.
Set a target of 245 to win the quarter-final, MP were 58 for no loss on Thursday and they knocked off the remaining 187 runs in 61 overs on Friday to win the match with a day to spare.
The heroic efforts of Andhra captain Hanuma Vihari who batted one-handed in both their innings after a wrist injury went in vain as his team could not stop MP from reaching 245 for 5 in 77 overs.
MP will take on Bengal in the semis from February 8 in a repeat of last edition's last-four stage match. MP had won that match by 174 runs at Alur, Karnataka.
Most of the MP top order batters except for captain Aditya Shrivastava (2) made useful contributions on the fourth day on Friday.
Opener and wicketkeeper-batter Himanshu Mantri was the first to go in the second ball of the day without adding any run to his overnight 31.
Dubey (58) then shared 62 runs for the second wicket with Shubham Sharma (40) before the former was out. Patidar (55) then stitched 49 runs with Saransh Jain (28 not out) for the fourth wicket to take MP to 207/4. Jain then completed the formalities along with Harsh Gawli (18 not out) to take MP home.
Lalith Mohan and Prithvi Raj took two wickets apiece for Andhra while Nitish Kumar Reddy got one.
Andhra 379 and 93 vs Madhya Pradesh 228 and 245/5 in 77 overs (Yash Dubey 58, Rajat Patidar 55).
Saurashtra's second innings fightback leaves Punjab with 200 to get on day five
Fighting half-centuries from skipper Arpit Vasavada, Chirag Jani, Prerak Mankad and Parth Bhut helped Saurashtra make a comeback in their Ranji Trophy quarter-final against Punjab on day four in Rajkot.
Having conceded the first innings lead to Punjab, Saurashtra recovered to score 379 in their second innings to set the opposition a 252-run target.
Vasavada (77) and Jani (77) shared a 160-run stand for the fifth wicket before Mankad (88) and Bhut (51) shared a valuable 92-run stand for the eighth wicket.
The game is nicely poised going into day five with Punjab needing 200 runs with eight wickets in hand. Pukhraj Mann (17 batting) and night watchman Siddarth Kaul(2 batting) were in the middle at close of play.
With the pitch offering a lot of turn, 2020 Ranji champions Saurashtra will back themselves to complete the job on Saturday. It will need a special batting effort from Punjab to reach the semi-finals.
Saurashtra got a shot in the arm when they removed the opening pair of Prabhsimran Singh and Naman Dhir, who both struck fine hundreds in the first innings to take Punjab to 431.
Dhir was the first to be dismissed as he made room to drive a turning ball from left-arm spinner Parth Bhut, only to edge it to first slip. Tempers flared in the middle with bowlers appealing at almost everything and Punjab batters were not amused.
Prabhsimran departed in the final over before stumps as he missed a fast and straight ball from Bhut, trapping him lbw.
Saurashtra: 303 and 379 all out in 120.1 overs (Arpit Vasavada 77, Chirag Jani 77, Prerak Mankad 88; Vinay Choudhary 7/179).
Punjab 1st innings: 431 all out and 52/2 in 23 overs (Pukhraj Mann batting 17, Siddarth Kaul 2 batting; Parth Bhut 2/30).