Kolkata: Pace spearhead R Vinay Kumar exposed Bengal's batting frailty with a match haul of nine wickets and lead Karnataka to a crushing nine-wicket away win in their Ranji Trophy Group A cricket match at Eden Gardens, here today.
R Vinay Kumar
Vinay Kumar returned with figures of 6-34, his 15th five-for in first class cricket, as Bengal after being followed on lost six wickets for just 29 runs in a pathetic batting display to be bundled out for 227 in their second essay, setting a paltry target of 71.
Bengal were let down by Manoj Tiwary who followed his first innings duck with a four from 21 deliveries and it was the duo of skipper Laxmi Ratan Shukla (57 from 65 balls) and Sudeep Chatterjee (59), who avoided the ignominy of an innings defeat.
Flamboyant opener Robin Uthappa's 36-ball 54 (10x4, 1x6) helped the defending champions hunt down the target in 10.2 overs in an extended second session. This was Karnataka's second outright win on the trot to lead the group table with 12 points after two rounds.
Bengal had a bit of solace by denying Karnataka a bonus point as Uthappa was dismissed by Shib Shankar Paul immediately after the veteran Bengal seamer dropped the opener at fine leg in the previous over.
Karnataka leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal was adjudged man-of-the-match for his match-turning 145 in a 148-run 10th wicket partnership with Sreenath Aravind that had seized the momentum for the visitors, who were reeling 69 for five on the opening day.
"We all are enjoying each other's company, it's a healthy dressing room atmosphere," Uthappa said about their champion-like performance.
Vinay Kumar disagreed that it was a meek surrender by Bengal batsman and credited their bowling for the away win. Earlier in the morning, Bengal resuming the day with a 111-run trail and soon lost overnight opener Arindam Das.
Bengal's most reliable batsman Tiwary disappointed yet again as the India probable for the World Cup looked out of sorts and found it difficult to get going against an out an out seam attack of Karnataka.
Tiwary had a tentative stay at the crease and ducked a Vinay Kumar bouncer in the first ball of the 39th over as his cracked helmet had to be replaced.
The Bengal batsman, who is in the 30-member World Cup probable squad struggled to middle the ball even against a relatively slow Vinay Kumar who bowled with a short run-up.
Tiwary's poor footwork did him in as he missed the line to a Vinay Kumar delivery that stayed a tad low to be castled for four from 21 balls.
Bengal once again lost wickets in heap in the post-lunch session even as skipper Shukla counter attacked with a 65-ball 57 with 10 fours and one six. But his inning was cut short by left-arm pacer Sreenath Aravind (2/54) while his experienced skipper showed no mercy from the High Court end and had wickets in two balls to skittle out Bengal for 76.3 overs.
Bengal had a similar collapse in their first innings and lost seven wickets for 79 runs in the post lunch session yesterday.
Skipper Shukla said there was no positive from the match and they can only go up from here.
"We can't go further down from here... We've to go up learning from our mistakes. The team is in desperate need for a strong attitude," Shukla said urging the team to buck-up.
On inclusion of an out of form seamer Paul ahead of Saurav Sarkar, he said: "This was just one match... Paul had played a key role in our passage to semis last season. We can't just drop him like that. Sarkar's turn will definitely come."
Karnataka will take on Railways in an away-match from December 21, while Bengal face Mumbai at home in their next match from December 28.
Karnataka 408 and 71/1 in 10.2 overs (Robin Uthappa 54) b Bengal 251 and 227 (f/o) in 76.3 overs (Sudip Chatterjee 59, Laxmi Ratan Shukla 57; R Vinay Kumar 6/34) by nine wickets.
Points: Karnataka 6. Bengal 0.