Ranji Trophy: Kumar Kartikeya stars as Madhya Pradesh beat Bengal to make first final in 23 years | Cricket News

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Bengal needed 350 runs to win a tough semi-final but left-arm spinner Kumar Kartikeya knocked out a team under pressure exactly halfway to the goal to take Madhya Pradesh to the Ranji Trophy final after 23 year. Kartikeya, who was impressive in an otherwise disastrous IPL campaign for the Mumbai Indians, netted 32 overs from the 65.2 overs Bengal faced to make 175. His final figures read 32-10-67 -5 for an 8 for 128 game.

It’s not the defeat that will hurt Bengal, but the way they lost would hurt them the most. It was an abject surrender.

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Kartikeya actually played with the minds of the opposition hitters and even their leading scorer, Abhimanyu Easwaran (78), looked beaten from the start.

It was evident when Abhishek Raman, who pocketed a pair, forgot to take guard on Friday afternoon. On Saturday morning, Anushtup Majumdar suddenly realized that he had forgotten to wear his thigh guard.

It was nervousness as he edged out the first delivery without showing any footwork. It was a delivery he would have left any other day.

Easwaran seemed too determined to impress the troika of national coaches, who were present to watch the match, rather than trying to counter-attack. A run that could make him a worthy contender for a spot on the test squad. Easwaran certainly doesn’t have the ability to win tough matches.

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He quietly racked up runs but not for once did it look like he was going on the hunt.

Once Kartikeya knocked down his stump with a delivery that kept a low key, the writing was on the wall.

Sayan Sekhar Mondal had a match he would like to forget as soon as possible.

Bengal added 79 runs to their overnight tally of 96 for 4 and with 83 overs ready to be played, Kartikeya and MP wrapped it up in just 28.2 overs.

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“It was the sacking of Manoj last night that was the turning point,” admitted coach of MP Chandrakant Pandit, the man who was also skipper in the team’s last final in the 1998-season. 99.

No wonder the players who impressed national coaches were Kartikeya and Rajat Patidar.

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It was a sight as their teammates watched curiously from the dressing room door seeing head coach Chetan Sharma talking to the pair.

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