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Spineless batting by Bengal

Arnab Nandi

Calcutta/Chennai: Dinesh Karthik scored an unbeaten 56 as Tamil Nadu are on the verge of clinching a Ranji Trophy knock-out berth, requiring only 83 runs to win against Bengal in the Group B tie, at the Chepauk, on Tuesday.

Shot out for a nothing total — 85 — in their first innings, having conceded a 45-run first innings lead, Tamil Nadu came back strongly to again decimate Bengal for a paltry 139 in their second essay.

In pursuit of 185, Karthik, who was promoted up the order to open the innings with Abhinav Mukund, stitched a vital 72 to lay the foundation of a victory, which looked a distant possibility when the hosts were shot out for 85 in the morning session.

A win will take Tamil Nadu’s points tally to 24 and ensure them a quarter final berth as the third team to qualify from Group B.

In the morning, resuming at 66 for six, Tamil Nadu could add only 19 more runs to their total with off-spinner Arnab Nandi taking four for nine and left-arm spinner Saurasish Lahiri getting three wickets for 33.

However, Bengal’s batting floundered once again as it was the same combination of Malolan Rangarajan and Rahil Shah that wreaked havoc.

On this occasion, Shah got six wickets (six for 64), while Rangarajan finished with four (four for 48). Interestingly, both spinners finished with a 10-wicket haul in the match.

For the nth time, skipper Laxmi Ratan Shukla fought back valiantly, smashing 46 off just 25 balls with five fours and two sixes and using his feet to perfection on a square turner. Left-handed Sudip Chatterjee also batted responsibly, scoring 39 off 82 balls.

While the two scored 85 runs between them and also added 58 runs for the fifth wicket, the likes of Subhomoy Das and Abhimanyu Easwaran failed to make any impact. Nine Bengal batsmen scored 54 runs between them with eight of them failing to reach double figures.