Bengal and Saurashtra have advanced to the 2022/23 Ranji Trophy final after outright wins in their respective semi-final fixtures on Day 5. With that, the tournament is set to have a repeat of 2019/20 edition, where Saurashtra clinched their previous title with a first innings lead over Bengal.
Bengal handed the defending champions, Madhya Pradesh, a 306-run defeat meanwhile Saurashtra registered a 4-wicket over Karnataka. Both Bengal and Saurashtra had already established a first innings lead to confirm a place in the final in case of a draw.
Pradipta's five-for does wonders for Bengal
In the first semi-final in Indore, Bengal began the last day at 279/9, extending their lead to 547. Avesh Khan wrapped up Bengal’s innings in the first over of play itself but chasing 548 within a day’s play was still an improbable task.
However, their hopes of a draw were reduced to dust by the left-arm orthodox spinner, Pradipta Pramanik. The 24-year old fetched figures of 5/51 in only 10.5 overs. Shahbaz Ahmed and Akash Deep picked one scalp each while Mukesh Kumar finished with 2/35 as MP were bowled out for 241 in 29.5 overs. A run-rate of 6.05 shows they went after the target since it was the only way they could have made it to the final. Rajat Patidar was the only batter to go past the 50-run mark, scoring 52 off 58 balls.
In his five-for, Pramanik pouched Shubham Sharma and Venkatesh Iyer before running through the tail. Madhya Pradesh skittled from 201/5 to 241 all out.
Akash Deep was adjudged the player-of-the-match, primarily for his 5/42 in the first innings. Overall, he snaffled seven wickets in the match.
Skipper Vasavada leads from the front
In Bengaluru, the venue for the second semi-final, Karnataka resumed their second innings, already struggling at 123/4, having lost Mayank Agarwal, Devdutt Padikkal and Manish Pandey, with a lead of only 3 runs. Four overs later, they had lost half their side with Shreyas Gopal walking back.
Karnataka needed to set Saurashtra a target of at least 150 to present themselves with a chance of a turnaround. But the constant fall of wickets never provided them that breathing space. The last three wickets added only 10 runs between them. Chetan Sakariya and Dharmendrasinh Jadeja took four wickets each with Parth Bhut striking twice.
Karnataka still tried to fight back. Having set the opposition a target of 116, they had Saurashtra 42/5 in 17.2 overs. With the going getting tough, the skipper Arpit Vasavada stepped up again. After 202 in the first innings, he weathered the storm in the second innings, scoring an unbeaten 47 off 51 balls. He found support in Sakariya who added 63 runs for the sixth wicket. Sakariya scored 24 off 48 balls. Prerak Mankad, coming in at number eight, saw the side across the finish line with the captain.
For Karnataka, Krishnappa Gowtham and Vasuki Koushik picked 3/38 and 3/32 respectively. Vasavada was adjudged the player of the match for his 249 runs in the match.
The final will be played at Eden Gardens from February 16 onwards.
(Cover image credits: PTI)