Hello and welcome to Sportstar’s highlights of the Ranji Trophy semifinal. This is Pranay Rajiv and Mayank taking you through the updates on the first day.
- Karnataka - 229/5 vs Saurashtra
- Bengal - 307/4 vs Madhya Pradesh
Karnataka aces the final session to finish the day at 229 for five.
An unbeaten 117-run partnership for the sixth wicket between captain Mayank Agarwal and Sharath Srinivas. The latter has scored a workmanlike half-century to bail the hosts out of trouble.
The match is back in the balance and sets up an intriguing day two!N Sudarshan
Avesh Khan bowled his 20th and last over of the day with full intensity and asked tough questions to left-handed Shahbaz, however, he carefully resisted this over as Bengal ends day 1 with a score of 307 for the loss of four wickets. Even though Madhya Pradesh got two wickets in succession after taking the second new ball, the day went to Bengal courtesy of two centuries from Anustup Majumdar and Sudip Gharami.
BENGAL 307/4 - MANOJ TIWARY 5(14), SHAHBAZ AHMED 6(11)
The shadows have crept onto the pitch with the end of the day’s play minutes away.
Sakariya with what should be the last over of the day. Mayank and Sharath see him out to preserve Karnataka’s hard-fought earned position in this game.
Mayank would be particularly pleased with his effort, having seen out multiple spells of hostile bowling from Saurashtra, on his way to a well-earned century.
An exciting second day awaits us in this Ranji Trophy semifinal between Karnataka and Saurashtra.
Both Avesh Khan and Anubhav Agarwal looked good and are bowling sharp in tandem as Anubhav created another chance when Manoj Tiwari tried to slice the ball but it nibs back and went to the slip off the edge but did not carry enough, a sigh of relief for the captain. Bengal will want to finish with this score as MP is trying its best to make the most of this spell.
Saurashtra has lost the spark which helped it to a dominant position early in the day.
Its bowlers are jaded following their tussle with Sharath and Mayank, whose partnership has now crossed the three-figure mark.
Sharath nudges Parth Bhut down the leg-side for a couple of runs and gets to his 50. It has been a patient knock from him and he would love to see out the day’s play.
Anubhav to Sudip, OUT! Anubhav followed Avesh and sent the second centurion of the day, Sudip Gharami. Gharami missed the line as the ball came slightly in and hit his pads which the umpire gave as out. Two quick wickets have put MP back in the hunt and the defending champions will now seek at least one more before the end of today’s play. Bengal four down on 301 with six overs left.
Under half an hour of play remains. Saurashtra doesn’t take the new ball, which is available now, as Sakariya gets a go.
Meanwhile, Mayank Agarwal gets the attention of his physio following a draining effort out in the middle. He is back on his feet and is ready to see out the last bit of the day.
At the other end, Sharath is getting close to a well-deserved half-century
Avesh Khan to Majumdar, OUT! Avesh finally picks a much-needed wicket as he uses the second new ball to target the toes, the fuller out-swinging ball crashes into the stumps to send set-batter Majumdar for 120. A brilliant inning comes to an end as the 38-year-old is getting a standing ovation from his teammates. Captain Manoj Tiwary comes in at number five. Avesh to Tiwary, huge appeal for caught out as the ball was drifting down the leg and clipped off the pads but the sounds made the bowling team believe otherwise. Avesh to Tiwary, FOUR! what a shot and what a way to get off the mark.
The hapless attack of Madhya Pradesh looks clueless against the duo of Majumdar and Gharami, who have stolen the show from the defending champions on their home turf. The effortless batting powers Bengal close to 300 with almost 10 overs to spare on the first day of play. There is a lot of batting which is yet to come for Bengal as Manoj Tiwari, Akash Deep, Abhishek Porel and Shahbaz Ahmed are all waiting outside. 80 gone, Bengal 285 for two.
Mayank Agarwal has found runs all over the ground today, with an almost equal distribution of runs between off-side and leg-side.
Also to be noted is the contribution of Sharath. He has provided the stability, which Karnataka’s innings lacked until his arrival at the crease.
This partnership is inching closer to the hundred mark, and has consumed more than 200 deliveries, breaking the sharpness of the Saurashtra bowlers, who started the day on top.
A fantastic hundred for Mayank Agarwal.
Brings up his 15th First Class century with back-to-back boundaries off Parth Bhut — square drive and a delicate late cut. Captains knock!N Sudarshan
Shubham Sharma to Sudip, he reads the line early and reverse sweeps for a four to reach his century! Well done young man! Phenomenal innings by him under pressure, came in at number four, guiding Bengal from 51/2 to 275 for the loss of two. This is a brilliant display of batting from not only Sudip but from both batters. A treat to watch!
Parth Bhut offers width and Mayank slashes at it and manages to find the fence on the off-side.
Another offering from Bhut and Mayank late cuts it for one more four and that’s his century.
He will remember this knock for a long time, considering the fortitude it required from him to overcome a persistent Saurashtra attack, all the while his teammates kept losing their bearings.
Sharath joins in the act now. He rises with the bounce and punches Mankad for a four. This partnership has resurrected Karnataka in this game.
Parth Bhut gets his first over of the game and the Karnataka duo deals with him with ease.
Mayank Agarwal stamps his class with an arrow-like straight drive for a FOUR!!
The century mark is hovering in sights for the Karnataka skipper.
Sudip Gharami is carefully negating any chances as he is going for low-risk shots and has a solid defensive approach as he nears his century. Majumdar meanwhile hits Shubham for his 13th four with a timely sweep. The duo will eye to retain their wickets till the end of today’s play. 70 gone, Bengal 268 for two.
Bengal passes the 250-run mark as Anustup Majumdar and Sudip Gharami’s partnership reaches 200 runs. This is a serious blow for MP’s title defence. The third-wicket partnership is now looking very dangerous.
And in the 66th over of the game, we have the first SIX!! Mayank Agarwal decides to break the shackles and skips out to launch Jadeja over the long-off boundary. That should restore his confidence.
That shot also brings up the fifty-run partnership between Mayank and Sharath, the first of this game.
Mankad gets a crack at the Karnataka duo. The all-rounder has been impressive with the ball today.
Majumdar has reached his fighting hundred! He’s pointing to his injured thumb, but that hardly mattered to him today as he looked in great touch from ball one. A well-deserved century puts MP on the back foot.
Kushang misses his line, drifting well into Sharath’s pads. A comfortable clip and it skips away to the fine-leg boundary for a FOUR!
This partnership is threatening to take the control of the game away from Saurashtra.
The third umpire takes his time to look at an attempted run-out on Sharath. All clear finally and the partnership resumes.
Kushang catches Agarwal off-balance, almost taking a bit of his bat there. Well, that has been today - Saurashtra bowlers getting the better of the Karnataka skipper, but unable to dislodge him.
Saransh Jain to Sudip Gharami, catching chance, missed! The ball shapes in and Gharami tries to defend it on the front-foot `but the ball went up and goes to fielder Shubham Sharma but it fell a tad bit short of him. A close chance as Saransh Jain looked disappointed. Anustup from the non-striker end giving instructions to his younger counterpart. Only a single from this over.
Avesh Khan continues from the other end and he starts with an inswinging well-pointed yorker which hits the toe of Majumdar, a huge appeal for lbw but the umpire Anil Chaudhary denies it. Replays show the ball was going down the leg side, another brilliant decision by the umpires today. Avesh to Sudip, FOUR! Avesh is helpless as Sudip uses the pace to register a boundary.
It follows by another boundary off Saransh, this time it is Majumdar, who picked the line to punch it over covers for a FOUR! He follows it with a single. Sudip goes to his backfoot and glances towards the square legs and straight away calls for a two, brilliant running between the wicket to complete the call.
Straight after tea, Kushang Patel induces an edge from Sharath. But it falls painfully short of the first slip.
At the other end, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja holds Mayank down for a maiden.
Decent partnership on the works here between Mayank and Sharath.
Saransh bowls a tidy over to start the proceedings post-tea and gives three runs from his over.
Avesh khan has been brought back into the attack from the other end. He goes for the short-ball ploy and bombarded short-balls to Anustup Majumdar from round the wicket. He changes the angle and tries to play over the wicket but Majumdar sensibly glances it past point for a single.
Saransh Jain to bowl the first over of the third session.
A decent second session for Karnataka. Mayank has dug his heels in and played a fine, patient knock. It looked like a free fall just minutes after lunch when Manish Pandey fell and Shreyas Gopal survived a catch off a no-ball.
But after Shreyas was run out, Mayank and Sharath Srinivas have tied things up. Saurashtra very much on top, but Karnataka is fighting.N Sudarshan
Just before tea, Aditya Srivastava introduces Shubham Sharma, the sixth bowler. Saransh dived to stop the ball and may have rolled over it as he rubbed his aching knees. The replay shows Saransh touching the boundary line rope while throwing the ball, providing Sudip with a welcome boundary. The umpires signal for the tea break. Bengal had a fantastic session, scoring 102 runs in 29 overs at 3.52 runs per over. A wicketless session for Madhya Pradesh, and Pandit’s men will need to reiterate its plans before the final session of the day.
Oooh, that was close. Agarwal shuffles forward and in reaction, Jani drags the length back, swinging the ball further away, almost nicking it to the keeper. The Saurashtra fielders couldn’t believe how that didn’t come off the edge.
Jani repeats the act, again. Draws forward Agarwal and slithers the ball past his outside edge. Out of nowhere, Agarwal has lost his aura of conviction.
Luckliy for him and Karnataka, tea is called and the home side gets a breather.
Kartikeya continues but could not impose any genuine threat to the batters. Kertikeya to Gharami, FOUR! Kept his eyes on the ball, and uses his wrist to roll the bat over to put the ball in the gap for a boundary. Sudip seems to have hurt himself while attempting the last shot, he looks in pain as the physio came in to treat his wrist.
Saransh bowls the next over and gives only a single from it. 60 gone, Bengal 208 for the loss of two.
None of the Saurashtra bowlers are able to trouble Agarwal, at this point. He has faced more than 150 deliveries and looks set to face another 150.
At the other end, Sharath too shows the required steel to provide his skipper with some able support.
Playing out the day would be the top priority for Karnataka.
Sudip uses his footwork to dominate Kartikeya here as he drives the second ball of the 57th over past covers and good running between the wickets accounted for a couple of runs. He is dictating the run of play here as Bengal takes six from the over.
Saransh to Majumdar, FOUR! Goes on backfoot to create room for himself and punched it for a four! This is clever batting as he read the trajectory of the ball and shifted his stance accordingly. Saransh to Majumdar steps out to drive it past the bowler for a couple of runs and with this Bengal crosses the 200-run mark inside 60 overs! Partnership crosses 150!
Mayank Agarwal cashes in on a loosener from Jani. An easy flick off his pads and it flies to the fence. The Karnataka skipper is growing in confidence.
He continues to take a couple of steps forward to negate the still-persisting swing from the Saurashtra medium pacers.
Vasavada would love to send his opposite number back sooner rather than later.
Spin twin from both ends as Kartikeya joined by Saransh Jain. Batters carefully resisted the five-over spell between the artificial pressure created by the wicketkeeper and short-leg fielder. Five runs came from the last five overs. No real threats to the batters.
Vasavada reintroduces Chirag Jani into the attack and he continues from where he left off.
No easy runs on offer for Karnataka as Jani finish his eighth over, conceding just 13 runs off it.
The home side would need to dig really deep to push itself back into this game.
The duo of Avesh Khan and Kumar Kartikeya is unable to stop Majumdar and Gharami. Passive approach from the captain here as he opened the field for batters and Madhya Pradesh looks to be under pressure.
The free-flow of runs has put Bengal in the driver’s seat as both Majumdar and Gharami are slowly nearing their 100-run mark. Too early to say but MP needs a breakthrough here if it wants to stay in the game. The Gharami dropped catch by Patidar seems to be costly for the home team.
Saransh replaces Kartikeya to bowl the 50th over of the innings. Confidently negotiated for three runs.
Captain Srivastava needs to think out of the box now as his bowlers started to look a bit tired. Bengal closing in on 200-run mark.
Srinivas Sharath is the new batter.
Saurashtra bowlers don’t ease on the pressure as they target Sharath, who finds it hard to get off the mark.
Finally, we have spin. Dharmendrasinh Jadeja gets an over and he delivers a sharp over with left-arm spin.
Agarwal taps one to the off side and sets off for a quick single and Gopal is caught off the crease by a superb Samarth Vyas, who picked up and hit the target in one motion.
Saurashtra has succeeded in picking off any prospective Karnataka partnerships.
Shreyas Gopal run out (Vyas) 15 (29b 2x4 0x6)
Kartikeya to Majumdar, FOUR! steps out and sends the ball away for a boundary as Majumdar reaches his fifty in some style. Kartikeya to Sudip, SIX! Sudip uses his footwork as he heads on and plays an inside-out for a maximum and he also reaches his half-century with a boundary. Class act by both batters as both of them looked in no discomfort. Runs are flowing for Bengal at the moment. 52 already came from this session.
Anustup Majumdar and Sudip Gharami forged a fighting 100-run partnership for the fourth wicket as Bengal crosses the 150-run mark in the 43rd over. Brilliant recovery after early blows for Bengal here.
Gopal is struck on his hand by a Kushang Patel bouncer. The team physio takes a look and he is back in action.
He is vital to Karnataka’s resistance against Saurashtra.
Sakariya comes in to have a go at Gopal. A probing over from the left-arm bowler, including a couple of half-hearted LBW appeals, but no rewards.
Mayank Agarwal gets to his fifty and it has been a hard-earned one. Saurashtra has been razor-sharp with the ball today and Agarwal has been the only Karnataka batter to stand firm against this concerted attack.
Karnataka will be hoping he will make the best out of this solid start.
Mankad swings one in, for a change. Gopal, who was clueless to an extent, put forward his front pad and Mankad was excited in his appeal, nearly losing his footing.
The umpire is unmoved, with the height at the point of impact being the most possible cause for it.
Vasavada continues to hold on to his spinners as Karnataka gets to 100, with Mayank Agarwal leading the home side from the front.
Anustup Majumdar and Sudip Gharami continue from where they left off. Soild stuff from the Bengal batters as they counter MP spinners with surety.
Anustup exectues a smooth drive of Anubhav Agarwal through the cover region to display the touch of confidence from the duo.
Eventful start to the post lunch session. After Manish Pandey is out caught at mid wicket attempting a wild heave, Shreyas Gopal is caught in the slips off Kushang Patel, only for it to be no ball!N Sudarshan
Lucky break for Karnataka.
Kushang Patel squares up new batter Shreyas Gopal, who can only nick it to second slip. But upon inspection by the third umpire, a no ball is called and Karnataka gets a whiff of luck.
Bengal vs Madhya Pradesh
Anustup Majumdar and Sudip Gharami come into the field as Anubhav Agarwal will start the proceedings for MP in the 2nd session.
Karnataka vs Saurashtra
Prerak Mankad bowls the first over in the second session and he gives Saurashtra a breakthrough straight-up. Manish Pandey offers a catch to Snell Patel and he makes no miskate.
Karnataka 79-4 in 32 overs vs Saurashtra
The first session in the Karnataka Saurashtra semifinal has gone to the visitors. On a track with appreciable swing and seam movement, they have made the most.
The wicket of Nikin Jose, just ten minutes before lunch, was key. It had seemed like Mayank Agarwal and Nikin had steadied the ship after early jolts.
Could have been even better if Snell Patel had held on to Mayank’s offering at second slip early on.
The Karnataka captain though has batted well. He routinely stepped out, even to the faster bowlers, to smother the swing, forcing Saurashtra to bring the ‘keeper up to the stumps.
With the sun beating down, Mayank and Manish Pandey will look to put on decent partnership in the post-lunch session.N Sudarshan
A few quick singles taken as Agarwal and Pandey showcase their experience of having played together for so long.
Pandey gets his first boundary on the very last ball of the session.
Kushang pitches it up and Pandey only needed a push to get it past wide mid-off.
An intense session of cricket comes to an end.
Saurashtra must be the happier of the two sides following a solid outing with the ball. Karnataka still has a lot of batting left in its reserves and it has its skipper Mayank Agarwal, looking in good touch, out in the middle.
Change in the bowling as Saransh Jain replaces Kumar Kartikeya.
Jain to Gharami edged and dropped! Big chance but faltered by Patidar at slips. This could have been the big breakthrough before lunch but missed it. Jain to Gharami, SIX! he rubs salt to the wound as he goes for an aerial route to register the next ball for maximum.
Seven runs came from this over as it is now time for lunch. Bengal now looks in a decent position with 111/2 in 32 overs in the first session of day 1. Sudip Kumar Gharami 33 (55), Anustup Majumdar 24 (59).
Avesh to Majumdar, uppish length delivery, drifting down the leg, clipping off the bat which runs away for a boundary at fine leg. Tough chance for the keeper but couldn’t do much as Majumdar gets his third four.
Srivastava will now have to think again as both the batters are scoring comfortably. Kartikeya continues from the other end. He bowls a faster delivery and Gharami plays it very fine for a boundary and with this Bengal crosses the 100-run mark! This is a good recovery by Majumdar and Gharami, a fifty-run stand steers Bengal to a decent position near lunch.
Vasavada’s decision to bring back Kushang Patel works as he draws a false shot off Jose and Harvik Desai makes no mistake there.
Manish Pandey is the new batter in for Karnataka.
Nikin Jose c Desai b Patel 18 (66b 2x4 0x6)
No sign of spin, yet, as Vasavada brings Kushang Patel back.
He strikes Jose’s back pad and the Saurashtra players go up in appeal. The umpire is disinterested and later gestures that it was going above the stumps. Close call for Jose there.
Sakariya drifts one onto Agarwal’s pads and it is an easy four for him.
Sakariya corrects his line and Agarwal is forced to fend at it awkwardly, resulting in the ball running through the gully region for another four. Runs are coming easier for Karnataka.
As we are approaching lunch but both batters have taken the charge to score quick runs to put added pressure on MP. Avesh continues from one end and Kumar Kartikeya joins him from the other.
Avesh Khan to Majumdar, FOUR! cracker of a shot as he stays back and swivels across to pull the half-volley in between the deep square leg and deep fine leg. A single followed. Avesh to Gharami, FOUR! this time he opens the face of the bat and drives it for the second boundary of the over. Nine runs came from this as this pair looks good against the attack.
Kumar Kartikeya bowls a tight over as he gives only a single but one ball that went past the batter without turning, creating an iota of doubt in the batter’s mind.
Vasavada brings Sakariya back into the attack, understanding the necessity of breaking this blossoming partnership between Jose and Agarwal.
The Karnataka sipper continues to neutralise Mankad with his forward movement, while Jose relies on his awareness of where his off-stump is, making some confident leaves.
Sakariya overpitches on the off-side and Agarwal doesn’t miss out on those. A flowing drive, through covers for a four.
Anubhav Agarwal to Anustup Majumdar, going down the line, clipping off the pads and a huge appeal by keeper Himanshu Mantri and Anubhav but umpire Virender Sharma denies it. The replay shows no bat was involved, a good decision by the on-field umpire this time.
Majumdar adds insult to injury in the next ball as he tries to drive the ball but gets a thick edge which races away for a boundary on third men.
Followed by the change in bowling as Kartikeya replaces Anubhav from the Gail-Madav Rav Scindia end.
Mayank Agarwal with the shot of the day, so far.
Mankad pitches one up and Agarwal, who was already on the move forward, drives it straight down for a crunching four.
Vasavada responds by bringing wicketkeeper Harvik Desai up to the stumps to counter Karnakata batters stepping out against Mankad.
Jose and Agarwal have steadied the ship for Karnataka. The pitch has slowed down a notch, helping both batters in exerting greater control.
OPPONENT - RESULT
- UTTAR PRADESH - WON BY 6 WICKETS
- HIMACHAL PRADESH - DRAW (FIL)
- NAGALAND - WON BY AN INNINGS & 161 RUNS
- UTTARAKHAND - DRAW (FIL)
- BARODA - WON BY 7 WICKETS
- HARYANA - WON BY AN INNINGS & 50 RUNS
- ODISHA - LOST BY 7 WICKETS
- JHARKHAND (OF) - WON BY 9 WICKETS
- MADHYA PRADESH (SF) - ON GOING*
Anustup Majumdar and Sudip Gharami are in the middle, trying to rebuild for Bengal against Chandrakant Pandit’s team. The master tactician is giving instructions from outside and captain Srivastava is diligently following them.
Gharami picks the line early to punch the length ball off the backfoot against Anubhav Agarwal for a confident boundary. Near perfect timing, class shot!
Gharami looks comfortable against Gaurav as well as he slashes the half-volley going down the leg to register it for his second four.
He is showing good resistance here as he sees off Agarwal’s over with confident defence.
Jose and Agarwal counter Mankad’s swing by walking out of the crease into the off-side. The ploy has worked, mostly.
Chirag Jani continues to push the ball away from the stumps, trying to bait Jose, who responds by leaving the ball assuredly.
Jani tests Jose with a bouncer and the Karnataka batter responds with a confident pull shot, which races away to the fence.
A good battle going on here with Karnataka looking to weather this Saurashtra storm.
Chirag Jani comes in as the first change. He draws an edge from Jose straight up, but it falls just short of first slip.
Prerak Mankad gets the ball from the other end and he turns on the heat against Agarwal. First up was a good length delivery on the fifth stump, which bounced enough to take an edge. Unfortunately for Saurashtra, it was dropped at the second slip.
This was followed by an inswinger resulting in a failed LBW appeal and then a play-and-miss from Agarwal.
Karnataka and Mayank Agarwal are sweating in the face of this Saurashtra pressure.
Bengal fails to capitalise on a quick start by both openers as MP pulls things back with its pace attack. Gaurav Yadav followed by Anubhav Agarwal sent Abhimanyu Easwaran and Karan Lal with two beautiful deliveries. Anustup and Sudip must now restart in a much more difficult situation.
Anubhav Agarwal to Karan Lal, OUT! An in-swinger from Agarwal as the ball goes through in between the bat-pad gap resulting in a second wicket in quick succession. Lal falls after scoring 23. Bengal is losing the edge here. In comes, Anustup Majumdar at number four as both openers fall after staging fifty runs for the first wicket.
Karan Lal b Anubhav Agarwal 23(45) [4s-2]
Gaurav Yadav to Easwaran, OUT! Missed the line completely as the ball goes through the gates. Big wicket against the run of play for Madhya Pradesh. A crucial breakthrough as Easwaran falls after scoring 27 runs. Sudip Gharami comes in at no. three for Bengal.
Easwaran b Gaurav Yadav 27(33) [4s-5]
It has been a near-perfect start for Saurashtra after skipper Arpit Vasavada won the toss and sent Karnataka to bat first.
Sakariya has had a dream spell, conceding just 12 runs in his opening salvo, with the prized wicket of Devdutt Padikkal in his kitty.
His frugality has also helped his new-ball partner Kushang Patel, who, despite conceding at a faster clip, removed opener Samarth.
Karnataka will be hoping new-man Nikin Jose holds on along with skipper Mayank Agarwal to prevent Saurashtra from curring through its side.
Bengal has scored 50 runs in 11 overs, with both batters plunging at an excellent rate. Bengal is off to a strong start. An aggressive approach has pushed MP on backfoot quite early in the game.
OPPONENT - RESULT
- JAMMU & KASHMIR - WON BY AN INNINGS & 17 RUNS
- CHANDIGARH - WON BY AN INNINGS & 125 RUNS
- RAILWAYS - WON BY 2 WICKETS
- VIDARBHA - WON BY 205 RUNS
- GUJARAT - WON BY 260 RUNS
- PUNJAB - LOST BY AN INNINGS & 122 RUNS
- TRIPURA - DRAW (FID)
- ANDHRA (OF) - WON BY 5 WICKETS
- BENGAL (SF) - ON GOING*
Easwaran and Lal have utilised the excellent batting surface, scoring quick runs. Easwaran looks in delicate touch as he is batting on 26-ball 26 hitting five boundaries. Karan Lal is playing the anchor role here as both the openers have shared seven boundaries between them. Captain Aditya Shrivastava has used three bowlers till now but none of them looked dangerous enough to bother Bengal openers here.
Sakariya has kept it precise from his end and has now set his eyes on Mayank’s outside edge, flying the cherry past it on multiple occasions.
Padikkal gets two boundaries against Kushang before he edges a Sakariya outswinger to the slip cordon. Second wicket down for the home side.
Karnataka in trouble here.
Kushan Patel nabs an unsettled Samarth. Offers width down the off side and Samarth can only edge it to gully. He is gone for just 3. In comes Devdutt Padikkal.
Slow, but a steady start from the Karnataka openers.
Mayank Agarwal gets the first boundary of the day, with a clip off his pads against Kushang Patel. Samarth is yet to settle in as, Sakariya beats his outside edge a couple of times.
A fine start from both the openers as both Lal and Easwaran look confident against the defending champions at their home. 24 for no loss after five overs.
Bengal starts on the front foot with a boundary each from its openers - Abhimanyu Easwaran and Karan Lal - in the first two overs.
R Samarth and Mayank Agarwal are out in the middle. They look to counter the new ball challenge from Chetan Sakariya and Kushang Patel.
Saurashtra wins the toss and chooses to field against Karnataka.
Bengal wins the toss and chooses to bat against Madhya Pradesh.
As far as Ranji Trophy rivalries go, Karnataka versus Saurashtra is no Rumble in the Jungle. Both teams do fancy a good punch-up as they did here in the controversy-ridden 2018-19 semifinal that Saurashtra won, but the match-up is neither very old nor as fierce.
The battle is still in its early rounds.
What is true though is that Saurashtra, of late, has been Karnataka’s nemesis. Of the last five matches between the two, Karnataka has lost three and conceded the first-innings lead in the other two. As both teams head into the semifinal clash at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium starting Wednesday, Karnataka has a score to settle.
It will help that Saurashtra will miss the star trio of Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja and Jaydev Unadkat, all of them away on National duty. Pujara’s, in particular, will be a big absence, for he has scored 1193 First Class runs against Karnataka in just eight matches, the most against any Indian opponent.
But in recent times, no team has worked its way towards securing the tag of a stalwart quite like Saurashtra and its pedigree can alone make Karnataka wary. In the time since Karnataka last reached the final (2014-15), Saurashtra has made the summit clash thrice and won the title once.
Last week, it triumphed in the quarterfinal against Punjab without Pujara, Jadeja and Unadkat, but with left-arm spinner, Parth Bhut, scoring an unbeaten century, a fifty and claiming a match-haul of eight wickets. Dharmendrasinh Jadeja’s 37 wickets, skipper Arpit Vasavada’s 577 runs and Harvik Desai’s 516 runs have been the other bright spots this season.
But an in-form Karnataka, at home, will be a tough nut to crack. While its batters can be expected to continue their fine form, the home pace battery, on what coach P. V. Shashikanth reckons will be a seamer-friendly pitch, should revel.
The trio of V. Vyshak, Vidwath Kaverappa and V. Koushik have together accounted for 76 wickets. M. Venkatesh made his debut in place of the then-injured Koushik in the quarterfinal against Uttarakhand and impressed with seven wickets, thus creating a selection headache.
“It’s good for the side to have an embarrassment of riches,” said Shashikanth. “There is a lot of fuel in the tank and we will go with the combination that can help take 20 wickets. If you see, we have been unbeatable in the league phase. We just want to continue that streak.”
Defending champion and emerging heavyweight Madhya Pradesh’s exuberance will meet Bengal’s dogged desperation to end a 33-year-long title drought when the two teams clash in the Ranji Trophy semifinal at the Holkar Stadium here from Wednesday.
Bengal stumbled at the same hurdle against the same opposition last season and will hope to make amends in what is its third-consecutive semifinal appearance. The host, meanwhile, would have had to recover from a roller-coaster quarterfinal against Andhra at the same venue, where it had to draw on all its reserves of fortitude to script a five-wicket win after conceding a 151-run first-innings lead.
A case in point is pace spearhead Avesh Khan, Madhya Pradesh’s leading wicket-taker this season with 36 scalps at 17.08, who picked four for 24 and turned the match on its head as Andhra collapsed for 93 in the second innings. The India international has had able support from fellow pacers Gaurav Yadav (22 wickets at 22.22) and Anubhav Agarwal and spinners Kumar Kartikeya (27 wickets; average 20.14) and Saransh Jain (28 wickets; average 20.17).
This is where Bengal’s experience will hold it in good stead. At 37 and 38, respectively, captain Manoj Tiwary and Anustup Majumdar (590 runs; average 59) have been among the runs while former skipper Abhimanyu Easwaran’s 738 runs at an average of 92.25 have been the highlight. Young Sudip Kumar Gharami has delivered on his promise by averaging 53 for his 636 runs and Bengal’s batting, save for a consistent opening partner for Easwaran, looks solid.
There are even fewer chinks in the bowling armour as the pace trio of Akash Deep, Ishan Porel and Mukesh Kumar have ensured Bengal doesn’t concede in excess of 300 more than once in this edition of the Ranji Trophy. Moreover, with Shahbaz Ahmed and Pradipta Pramanik shouldering spin duties, the Madhya Pradesh batters will have their task cut out.
Barring Rajat Patidar, no batter has averaged 50 or above this season for the defending champion and captain Aditya Shrivastava’s horror form has been a concern. Shubham Sharma has offered stability at No.3 but openers Himanshu Mantri and Yash Dubey have lacked consistency of late.
With conditions at the Holkar Stadium favouring both spinners and seamers and low-scoring games being the order of the day for the large part of the tournament, graft with the bat, particularly in the second innings, could be pivotal.
Both Madhya Pradesh and Bengal had a slump in form and endured shock defeats towards the end of the group stage before getting their act together in the quarterfinals. However, a solitary faux pas, at a venue where the first-innings lead guarantees little advantage, could be fatal for their title aspirations.
The teams (from):
Bengal: Manoj Tiwary (captain), Abhimanyu Eswaran, Anustup Majumdar, Sudip Gharami, Suvankar Bal, Shahbaz Ahmed, Abishek Porel (wk), Ishan Porel, Mukesh Kumar, Akash Deep, Kazi Junaid Saifi, Pradipta Pramanik, Geet Puri, Pritam Chakraborty, Sumanta Gupta, Ankit Mishra, Akash Ghatak and Durgesh Dubey, Karan Lal.
Madhya Pradesh: Aditya Shrivastava (c), Rajat Patidar, Yash Dubey, Himanshu Mantri, Harsh Gawli, Shubham Sharma, Akshat Raghuwanshi, Aman Solanki, Kumar Kartikeya, Saransh Jain, Avesh Khan, Ankit Kushwaha, Gaurav Yadav, Anubhav Agarwal, Mihir Hirwani.
When to watch Ranji Trophy 2022/23?
Ranji Trophy semifinals will start from Wednesday, February 8 from 9:30 AM IST.
Where to watch Ranji Trophy 2022/23 on TV?
A select number of tournament matches are being telecast on Star Sports 2 and Star Sports 2 HD. The telecast also provides updates and scores from all matches at regular intervals.
Where to live stream Ranji Trophy 2022/23?
The streaming of the Ranji Trophy matches will be available on Disney+ Hotstar app.