Karnataka thundered to a resounding nine-wicket victory — its second in the tournament — after Bengal batsmen failed to put up a semblance of a fight at the DRIEMS ground in Cuttack on Friday.
Chasing a modest 132 to win, Rohit Kadam (81 n.o., 55b, 10x4, 2x6) and B.R. Sharath (50, 37b, 9x4) cantered to their respective half-centuries, launching a flurry of boundaries against Bengal's lead seamer Ashoke Dinda, who was guilty of bowling either too short or too full. He conceded 22 in his first two overs and did not complete his full quota.
Manoj Tiwary introduced spin as early as the fifth over with the hopes of stemming the flow, but to no avail. Sharath, in particular, brought out two delectable late cuts against leg-spinner Prayas Ray Barman before eventually holing out after having added 117 for the first wicket.
Bengal's listless attack was further hampered by some pretty ordinary fielding late in the innings, as it suffered a humbling defeat with more than four overs to spare.
Bowlers reign supreme
Earlier, openers Shreevats Goswami (40, 29b, 6x4, 1x6) and Vivek Singh began rapidly yet again, after Bengal won the toss and elected to bat. Goswami opened his account with a glorious cover drive off Vinay Kumar's first ball before lifting Abhimanyu Mithun over deep extra-cover for another boundary.
A powerful drive over long-on for six stood out. Singh, at the other end, got a reprieve in the first over — like against Mizoram on Thursday — when captain Manish Pandey dropped a sitter in the slips. But he failed to make the most of the advantage, falling to a brilliant diving catch by Kumar at mid-on soon after.
That brought last game's centurion, Abhimanyu Easwaran, to the crease and together with Goswami, he continued to find the gaps as Bengal reached its fifty in the powerplay. Easwaran combined grace with surgical precision, collecting a boundary and a six in quick succession but the right-hander's promising start was cut short by Rohan Kadam, who snaffled a catch a few inches inside the ropes off Manoj Bhandage.
Bhandage then found Goswami's edge for his second wicket in the over as Karnataka swung the momentum its way. Wriddhiman Saha was run out, three overs later, after a mix-up with Manoj Tiwary triggering a slide which saw Bengal give up its remaining wickets with a series of poor choices. It slipped from 66/3 to 131 all out in less than 12 overs with Mithun returning figures of three for 22.