KOLKATA: Karnataka might rue letting Bengal make 312 after having them by their neck at 67/6 on Day 1. But as they stare at their third successive elimination at the semifinal stage, Karnataka can only blame their batsmen, who put up a pedestrian show against high-quality seam bowling and top-class fielding from Bengal. Abhimanyu Mithun had said at the end of Day 1 that they expected Sunday to be the best day for batting on this greenish Eden wicket.
In fact, he had even admitted to reading the conditions wrong. Though the bowlers had let Bengal’s tail wag, 312 wasn’t a massive first-innings total or beyond the reach of Karnataka’s batsmen. But this has been a forgetful season for Karun Nair & Co with the bat. They have been bowled out 12 times and crossed 300 only on four occasions, with just one century to show for. They came here hoping KL Rahul’s return and the presence of Manish Pandey would give them stability.
But against an attack breathing fire, they didn’t show any fight to douse it, as one after another played shots that were a strict no-no on this pitch. Ishan Porel, Mukesh Kumar and Akash Deep induced false shots by pitching it up. While the need of the hour was to see off the testing period, they hardly showed patience and surrendered meekly. This was going to be a match which would be decided by which batting side handled the in-form attack better. Although Karnataka were stronger on paper, Bengal showed more character. “Ours was not a big total as they have a strong batting line-up.
We showed discipline and maintained a good line and length. Throughout the season, we have been bowling well,” Porel said. Though Karnataka responded by reducing Bengal to 72 /4, with a lead of 262, the home team can shut the door if they add about 100 more. Thanks to the 9.15 am start, pacers find movement and Karnataka will take the field on Monday hoping to dismiss the hosts, keep the lead to around 300 and give their batsmen another chance. But going by how their season has gone so far, even that may appear a bridge too far. Brief scores: Bengal 312 (Majumdar 149 n.o) & 72/4 (Mithun 3/9) vs Karnataka 122 (Porel 5/39, Akash 3/30).