BENGALURU: The unheralded Madhya Pradesh sprang a surprise on Saturday by defeating Bengal by 174 runs in the semi-final of India’s premier first-class tournament Ranji Trophy. This is the first time since 1998-99 that Madhya Pradesh has made it to the final where they will cross swords with the 41-time champions Mumbai.
Chasing 350, Bengal needed 254 more runs on the last day with their captain Abhimanyu Easwaran batting on 52. However, left-arm spinner Kumar Kartikeya and medium-pacer Gaurav Yadav dashed their hopes as they chalked up five and three wickets respectively to demolish Bengal’s batting order. Easwaran fought a lone battle till he was cleaned up for 78 by Kartikeya.
After his dismissal, other batsmen failed to exhibit any resistance and Bengal were skittled out for 175 in 65.2 overs.
Earlier, Madhya Pradesh had opted to bat after winning the toss and riding on Himanshu Mantri’s fantastic 165, they scored 341 in their first innings. Akshat Raghuvanshi also reeled off a breezy 63, which included two sixes, off just 81 balls.
In response, Bengal were dismissed for 273 despite centuries by Manoj Tiwary and Shahbaz Ahmed. No other batsman scored more than 22.
In Madhya Pradesh’s second innings, the Indian Premier League (IPL) hero Rajat Patidar stepped up and smashed 79. Their captain Aditya Shrivastava also scored a patient 82 to propel his team to 281 and set a target of 350 for Bengal which proved more than enough in the end.
The final between Madhya Pradesh and Mumbai will be played from June to June 26 at Bengaluru.