The defending champions Madhya Pradesh finished their remarkable comeback as they defeated Andhra by five wickets on Friday to advance to the Ranji Trophy semifinals in Indore, riding half-centuries from opener Yash Dubey and Rajat Patidar. After giving up a significant first innings lead of 151 runs, MP recovered on the third day of play on Thursday by dismissing Andhra for just 93 runs in 32 point three overs in the visiting team's second innings. With a target of 245 to reach, MP was 58 for no loss on Thursday and scored the final 187 runs in 61 overs on Friday to win the match with a day to spare.
Since his team was unable to prevent MP from reaching 245 for 5 in 77 overs, Andhra captain Hanuma Vihari's valiant efforts, which included batting with one hand during both of their innings due to a wrist injury, were in vain.
A rematch of the final-four stage match from the previous edition will now take place on February 8 between MP and Bengal in the semifinals. At Alur, Karnataka, MP defeated the opposition by 174 runs.
Except for captain Aditya Shrivastava (2), the majority of the MP top order batters contributed significantly on Friday's fourth day of play.
Himanshu Mantri, an opening batsman and wicketkeeper, was the first to depart in the second ball of the day without adding any more runs to his overnight 31.
Before Shubham Sharma (40) was dismissed, Dubey (58) and Sharma (62 runs) shared the wicket's second wicket. After that, Patidar (55), together with Saransh Jain (28 not out), added 49 runs for the fourth wicket, bringing MP to 207 for 4. When Jain and Harsh Gawli (18 and counting) were ready to take MP home, the formalities were finished.
For Andhra, Lalith Mohan and Prithvi Raj each claimed two wickets, while Nitish Kumar Reddy secured one.
A quick breakdown of the scores is as follows: Andhra 379 and 93 Madhya Pradesh: 228 and 245 for 5 in 77 overs (Yash Dubey 58, Rajat Patidar 55; Lalith Mohan 2/91, Prithvi Raj 2/50).
Bengal defeated Jharkhand in the quarterfinals.
A powerful Bengal team that was loaded with impact bowlers destroyed Jharkhand by nine wickets in just four days to advance to the Ranji Trophy semi-finals on Friday. Bengal competed in the season's championship game in 2019–20, and following a COVID-caused break, the team advanced to the semifinals the year before, where it was defeated by eventual champion Madhya Pradesh. Madhya Pradesh, the defending champions and Bengal's longtime "bogey team," will once again face off against Manoj Tiwary's team.
Jharkhand's lower order, led by Supriyo Chakraborty (41) and starting the day at 162 for 7, managed to delay the inevitable for roughly 15 plus overs in the morning before being bowled out for 221.
The target of 67 was more of a romp for India A captain Abhimanyu Easwaran (28 not out) and hot-shot Sudip Gharami (26 not out), as the umpires extended the first session to let Bengal finish the formalities in 12 point 4 overs after they lost opener Kazi Junaid Saifi.
Bengal's pacers Akash Deep (match figures 6/108), Mukesh Kumar (match figures 4/94), and Ishan Porel (match figures 2/90) shared 12 wickets between them under new head coach Laxmi Ratan Shukla.
Both the inexperienced Akash Ghatak (match figures 4/36) and the seasoned left-arm spin bowling all-rounder Shahbaz Ahmed (2/45 and 81 runs) excelled in their supporting roles.
Akash Deep's selection as the "Player of the Match" by match official Daniel Manohar was entirely justified because it gave Bengal the advantage after Jharkhand was dismissed for 173 in just 66.02 overs on the first day. Bengal never looked back after Akash took control of 4/62 as the chief wrecker.
This year's Ranji Trophy could be a special one for Bengal as skipper Tiwary, also a junior Sports Minister in the Trinamool Congress-run state government, is likely to call it quits if they lift the elusive trophy after 33 years.
Bengal's pace unit must continue to perform well and fire on all cylinders, as it has for the previous three seasons, to achieve that.
A unit that has more often than not kept rival teams in the 300-run first innings range for the majority of the last three seasons (current one included) will always be respected by the opposition.
In Mukesh, Akash and Ishan, Bengal have found another potent seam and swing bowling unit after Ranadeb Bose, Shib Shankar Paul and the tireless Ashoke Dinda tormented the opposition between 2005-2008.
Bengal played back-to back Ranji Trophy finals without winning one.
The current troika has already played one final and one semi-final, but the players would like to finish one better this time.
Brief Scores: Jharkhand 173 and 221 in 63.5 overs (Aryaman Sen 64, Akash Deep 2/46, Akash Ghatak 3/21, Shahbaz Ahmed 2/45).
Bengal 328 and (target 67) 69/1 in 12.4 overs (Abhimanyu Easwaran 28 not out, S Gharami 26 not out). Bengal won by 9 wickets. Qualify for Semi-final.