2-time winner and 11-time finalists, Bengal stormed into the finals of the domestic marquee event of India, Ranji Trophy after a thumping win against big guns Karnataka in the semi-finals. This is a historic moment for Bengal as this is their first final appearance in 13 years. Led by a young and fresh captain Abhimanyu Easwaran, Bengal was absolutely phenomenal during the entire course of the tournament and outplayed Karnataka at the Eden Gardens in the semis.
Bengal quashed Karnataka’s hopes of the coveted domestic treble(Winning the Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy, and the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy) to register a mammoth 174 run victory over the South Indian state. Bengal had their backs against the wall after they were reeling at 67-6 But veteran Anustup Majumdar’s unbeaten knock of 149 bailed Bengal out of the precarious condition and took Bengal to a respectable and defendable score with the aid of a handy cameo from tail-ender Ishan Porel. Ishan Porel again hogged the limelight after he picked up 5 wickets and restricting Karnataka to only 122. This pushed Bengal to the driving seat of the match after they took a lead of 192.
Now the onus was on the Bengal batsmen to capitalize on the lead after a clinical performance from the Bengal bowlers led by Porel. But the Bengal batsmen could only muster 161 runs and set a target of 352 for the star-studded line-up of Karnataka. The big guns Manish Pandey, KL Rahul, Karun Nair did not live up to their expectations as pacer Mukesh Kumar ran riot in the second innings and bagged 6 wickets to register a huge victory for the home-side. Karnataka was inconsolably distraught as they failed to win the domestic treble and after their disappointing end to their dream season. On the other hand, this victory will take a while for Bengal to sink in.
And what is striking in this entire magical sojourn of Bengal is that none of the top 10 run-scorers or wicket-takers of the Ranji Trophy feature a Bengal player. This essentially proves that this was a complete team performance from the Bengal side and will help them immensely in the coming seasons.
The coveted final of the Ranji Trophy is slated to take place on the 9th of March at the Saurashtra Cricket Stadium, Gujarat and will take place between Bengal and Saurashtra. The winner of this high-voltage encounter will later face the Rest of India in the Irani Cup.
- Sayanta Sengupta