Ranji Trophy: Ishan Porel five-for puts Bengal in ascendancy

Bengal pacer Ishan Porel registered his third five-wicket haul in first-class cricket to give his team the upper hand against Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy semifinal.

Ishan Porel

Bengal's Ishan Porel celebrates the wicket of Karnataka captain Karun Nair.   -  PTI

The second day of the Ranji Trophy semifinal in Kolkata delivered 15 wickets as Karnataka first nosedived to 122 all out, losing its last six for 66 runs, before Bengal limped its way to 72 for 4 in the second innings, 262 in front. 

The day belonged to the bowlers - speedsters and seam-bowlers, but if one stood out, it was Bengal's Ishan Porel.

Porel struck with the fourth ball of his first over and then struck again in his next over, providing Bengal with a dream start. He had R. Samarth caught in the slip, and then accounted for Karnataka skipper Karun Nair in a similar fashion.

Ranji semifinal - Day 2: As it happened

But K.L. Rahul's battle with Porel stood out as the contest of the morning. The sparse but boisterous crowd became a part of it, too. There was pin-drop silence for a moment when a fuller length delivery, sliced off the outside half, raced for a boundary.

Next moment Rahul was drawn forward into a defensive push and beaten; the home fans erupted. Porel then pitched the fifth delivery on a length and opened Rahul up with the angle, the ball catching the back-thigh en route to the keeper.

Porel breathes fire

A loud shout for caught behind was followed by a DRS review to no avail. But each time Porel bowled, he had a quick little stare at the batsman with a strong body language: a face-off packed with Porel's adrenalin, and Rahul's desire. Porel's first spell (6-1-16-2) left Karnataka plenty to ponder at lunch, with the visitor reeling at 45-3.

Mukesh Kumar dealt two decisive blows immediately after the break, sending Manish Pandey's middle stump cartwheeling in the 21st over, before Rahul holed out to a diving Abhishek Raman, a few balls later and a follow-on looked imminent.

K. Gowtham and Abhimanyu Mithun's enterprising half-century stand allayed those fears but once Porel had Mithun caught at long-leg, the rest followed suit. Porel finished with five for 32 — his third five-for in Ranji Trophy — and found support in Akash Deep, who picked three for 30 as Karnataka folded for 122 in the first innings.

Biding time

Earlier, Mithun picked up 3 for 77 as Bengal added only 37 to its overnight total of 275 for 9. Runs were a bonus, but eating up time was of the essence.

As the morning progressed, Anustup Majumdar began to show a lot of faith in Porel's ability to farm the strike. The two added 54 priceless runs off 79 balls to take the host past 300.

Majumdar hit two sixes and three fours to remain unbeaten on 149. Bengal's last four wickets added 246, as the lower-order kept up the tradition of displaying fortitude in the face of adversity this season.

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