Bengal needed 350 runs to win a tough semi-final, but left arm spinner Kumar Kartikeya pressured a team to just halfway through the goal to take Madhya Pradesh to the final of the Ranji Trophy after 23 years. Kartikeya, who was impressive in an otherwise disastrous IPL campaign for Mumbai Indians, threw 32 overs of the 65.2 overs Bengal got to make 175. His final numbers were 32-10-67-5 for a match-haul of 8 for 128 .
It was not the defeat that will hurt Bengals, but the way they lost would hurt them the most. It was a contemptible surrender.
Kartikeya actually played with the minds of the opponents and even their top scorer, Abhimanyu Easwaran (78), seemed to have been defeated from the start.
It was apparent when Abhishek Raman, who was packing a pair, forgot to keep watch on Friday afternoon. On Saturday morning, Anushtup Majumdar suddenly realized that he had forgotten to wear his thigh protector.
It was nervousness when he declined the first delivery without showing any footwork. It was a delivery he would have left on another day.
Easwaran seemed too determined to impress the troika of the national selectors, who were there to watch the match, rather than try to counterattack. A turn that could make him a worthy contender for a spot on the test team. Easwaran certainly lacks the ability to win difficult games.
He quietly collected runs, but not for once did he seem to go hunting.
When Kartikeya knocked his stump off with a delivery that held a tap low, the writing was on the wall.
Sayan Sekhar Mondal had a match he would like to forget soon.
Bengal added 79 runs to their overnight score of 96 for 4 and with 83 overs to bowl, Kartikeya and MP wrapped it in just 28.2 overs.
“Manoj’s resignation last night was the turning point,” admitted MP coach Chandrakant Pandit, who incidentally skipped the team when the team last played the final in the 1998-99 season.
No wonder the players who impressed the national selectors were Kartikeya and Rajat Patidar.
It was a sight as their teammates watched curiously from the locker room door as Chief Selector Chetan Sharma spoke to the duo.
(This story was not edited by DailyExpertNews staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)
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