Ranji Trophy: Spinners help Bengal trounce Kerala

Shahbaz Ahmed and Arnab Nandi take six wickets between them; Kerala is bowled out for 115 in the second innings to eventually fall to an eight-wicket defeat.

Arnab Nandy took 3 for 28 to rattle Kerala in the second innings.   -  K. Pichumani (File Photo)

Kerala’s batting imploded for the second time, but it was more dramatic in the second innings, as Bengal registered an eight-wicket win inside three days in the Ranji Trophy Elite A & B Group match at the KCA-St. Xavier’s College ground here on Thursday.

It was payback time for Bengal, which extracted sweet revenge after the humiliating defeat it suffered against Kerala at the Eden Gardens last season.

ROUND TWO, DAY THREE | AS IT HAPPENED

After conceding a 68-run first-innings lead, Kerala’s batsmen lost the battle mentally on a surface which was rapidly deteriorating. None of the batsmen — barring Robin Uthappa and Vishnu Vinod — showed the will to stay at the wicket; instead, they were guilty of playing extravagant shots early in their innings to perish. Spinners Shahbaz Ahmed (3 for 10) and Arnab Nandi (3 for 28) ran through Kerala’s lower order after medium pacers prised out the top half.

Kerala was bundled out for 115 in the second innings, leaving Bengal a target of 48. The visitor reached the target after an initial stutter, for the loss of two wickets.

Dogged stand

The opening session set the template for the day. Kerala found it difficult to end the dogged seventh-wicket stand between Shahbaz Ahmed (50) and Arnab Nandi (27). The pair not only added crucial 49 runs but also managed to frustrate the host for nearly 22 overs.

Shabaz grafted his way to deserved half-century. It was again Midhun who gave Kerala the breakthrough by dismissing Arnab.

Kerala lost a wicket in the two overs it batted before lunch; Ashok Dinda cleaned up P. Rahul for a duck.

Shaky start

Ishan Porel had Jalaj Saxena slashing to provide a catch at point while Sanju Samson wafted at a wide delivery from Dinda and chopped it on to his stumps. Mukesh Kumar breached Sachin Baby’s defences to leave Kerala in dire straits at 29 for four.

Uthappa (33) and Vishnu (33) added 56 runs for the fifth wicket before Uthappa was adjudged leg-before-wicket to Shahbaz. The batsman showed his displeasure before leaving the crease. Uthappa’s dismissal brought a quick end to the innings.

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Both Salman Nizar and Vishnu perished to poor shots while attacking the spinners. Kerala lost its last six wickets for 30 runs as spinners Shahbaz and Arnab shared the spoils.

‘Fantastic win’

Bengal captain Abhimanyu Easwaran was pleased with the win. “It was a fantastic win. A great start to the season. Abhishek Raman played an outstanding innings. Our bowlers stuck to their task. It was good to begin my captaincy stint with a win,” he said.

“We played some loose shots. Our batting was not up to the mark in both innings. We need to address the batting collapses. It is disappointing,” said Kerala coach Dav Whatmore.

Brief scores

Kerala 239 and 115 (Shahbaz Ahmed 3 for 15, Arnab Nandi 3 for 28) lost to Bengal 307 and 50 for 2 by eight wickets.