Ranji Trophy semifinal: Porel five-for after Majumdar unbeaten ton puts Karnataka on mat
Ishan Porel took his first five-wicket haul of the season and fronted a three-pronged pace attack that was relentless as it was ruthless. Aided by sharp catching in the slip cordon, Bengal splintered Karnataka’s reputed batting line-up, taking 36.2 overs and 212 minutes to end their first innings on 122.
That was 88 minutes less than what Anustup Majumdar took on way to an unbeaten 149 (207b; 21x4; 3x6) in Bengal first innings total of 312 in this Ranji Trophy semi-final. After another effete display by the top order—typified by Manoj Tiwary’s attempt to drive away from his body three overs before stumps—Bengal were 72/4, their lead having stretched to 262.
On either side of lunch Porel, 21, took 5/39 in two spells during which he got swing and consistently probed the off-stump channel from a teasing length. “I am gaining experience and am more confident now. That is why they (hitting the right length and getting the ball to swing) are happening naturally,” said Porel.
Back from India A assignment in New Zealand, Porel struck in the innings’ fourth ball when Ravikumar Samarth’s bat closed early and Tiwary grabbed the low, sharp chance at first slip.
It was the first of the six catches Bengal pouched behind the wicket. Karun Nair fell in the first ball of Porel’s second over, the delivery angling in and Majumdar taking the catch at second slip. Akash Deep, replacing Mukesh Kumar who had dried up runs with a spell of 6-3-10-0, too struck in his first over removing KV Siddharth with one that held its line; Tiwary taking a sharp catch at first slip.
45/3 at lunch, Karnataka were pegged back further when Manish Pandey played on Kumar. During a passage of play that is said to be the best for batting here, Bengal took three wickets in three overs.
After a first spell of 6-1-16-2, Porel removed Devdutt Padikkal, drawing Karnataka’s most successful batsman this term into a defensive prod, getting the ball to kiss the outside edge and travel to second slip Majumdar. That was in the 24th over. Next over Rahul, the batsmen who looked the least in trouble, failed to keep a cut down off Kumar and stationed at deep point for such a possibility, Abhishek Raman dove to hold it. Rahul, who opened the innings, made 26 off 67 balls.
“Had we not been disciplined as a unit, he (Rahul) would have been on lot more. If we find our rhythm, there are few teams we won’t trouble,” said Porel.
When Porel removed S Sharath—this time Abhimanyu Easwaran taking a good catch in the slip cordon—he had not conceded a run in two overs and taken two wickets. K Gowtham (31) and Abhimanyu Mithun (24) and their 56-run eighth-wicket stand in 46 minutes took Karnataka past 100. They were helped by Arnab Nandi failing to reach a Gowtham upper cut on the third man fence when on 23.
Porel’s third first-class fifer was completed by bouncing Mithun who sent it down Deep’s throat at deep fine-leg. “This means a lot and I would rate this as the best among the three as it came in a semi-final and against a strong line-up,” said Porel.
It completed a good day for Porel who had helped Bengal stretch their overnight score of 275/9 by 37 runs in 10 overs, the last wicket partnership with Majumdar yielding 54 runs.
Porel said he spoke to Ashoke Dinda, who has 420 first-class wickets but has been sidelined on disciplinary grounds, on Saturday. “He has a lot of experience and he told me to not try too much,” said Porel.
Things went askew for Karnataka from Sunday’s first over which had Majumdar, resuming on 120, hitting Prasidh Krishna for a six over point and then square-driving him for four. It ended with Majumdar surviving being caught off a Ronit More no-ball on zero. Whether Bengal can avoid Monday morning blues and shut out Karnataka hinge on Majumdar (batting on 1) and Sudip Chatterjee who is on 40.
Bengal 312; 92 overs (Anustup Majumdar 149 not out; Ronit More 3/52, Abhimanyu Mithun 3/77, Prasidh Krishna 2/78). Karnataka 122; 36.2 overs (KL Rahul 26; Ishan Porel 5/39, Akash Deep 3/30, Mukesh Kumar 2/46) and 72/4 (Mithun 3/9).