Left-arm spinner Kumar Kartikeya took 5/67 for an eight-wicket match haul as Madhya Pradesh beat Bengal by 174 runs on the final day of their Ranji Trophy last four tie in Bengaluru to enter the final of the national championship after 23 years.
Madhya Pradesh will meet Mumbai in the final to be played at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru from June 22-26. Mumbai edged out Uttar Pradesh on first innings after their batters dominated the other semi-final which ended in a draw after a truncated final day.
Chasing a target of 350, Bengal were up against it going into the fifth day after losing four wickets on Friday, including the experienced Manoj Tiwary, who scored 102 in the first innings. Bengal’s hopes rested primarily on skipper Abhimanyu Easwaran. The opener began Day 5 on 52, but once Kartikeya dismissed him for 78, the writing was on the wall.
Kartikeya, who bowls orthodox deliveries as well as wrist spin, has impressed of late, not just with Madhya Pradesh but also for Mumbai Indians in IPL 2022. He took 6/50 in the Punjab second innings in the 10-wicket quarter-final win. In IPL, the 24-year-old took five wickets in four games for struggling MI after coming in as a replacement for injured seamer Arshad Khan.
MP’s passage to the final comes under veteran domestic coach Chandrakant Pandit, who was captain when they last entered the Ranji final, in 1998/99. MP lost to Karnataka in the final.
They will have their task cut out against 41-time champions Mumbai. Their batters amassed 533/4 declared in their second innings against UP when the teams agreed to shake hands on a draw. Resuming on 449/4, Mumbai added 84 runs before the match ended. With Mumbai’s bowlers having had ample time to rest after bowling out Uttar Pradesh for 180 on Day 3, they should be fresh for the final.
Brief scores: Madhya Pradesh 341 and 281; Bengal 273 and 175 (A Easwaran 78; K Kartikeya 5/67). MP won by 174 runs.
Mumbai 393 and 533/4 decl (Y Jaiswal 181, A Jaffer 127). Uttar Pradesh 180. Match drawn. Mumbai qualify on 1st innings lead.