Bengal takes firm control of the Ranji Trophy semifinal against Karnataka

KOLKATA: Hosts Bengal they tightened their grip on the Ranji Trophy semifinal reducing Karnataka to 98 for three after setting a rigid goal of 352 races on day three of the competition on Monday.

Resuming the day at 72 for four, Bengal could manage just 161 but the massive 190-run first innings lead meant that Karnataka now have a mountain to climb.

Anustup Majumdar , who staged a fourth rescue-act this season with an unbeaten 149 in the first innings, hit a combative 41 in Bengal 's second innings amid yet another batting collapse.

Bengal , who won their previous Ranji title during Sourav Ganguly The debut season in 1989-90 would kill to make its first final in 13 years. They had lost to Mumbai by 132 races in their last final appearance in 2007.

Karnataka have already lost their top-order and they have to produce a superlative batting effort to score the required 254 runs in the remaining two days of the match.

KL Rahul (0) was fired by a peach from a delivery by the hero of the first entries Ishan Porel .

Just arrived from three and a half centuries and a century in the series of limited overs in New Zealand, Rahul offered no shot and decided to leave the delivery off the line, but turned sharply to have it in front.

As Karnataka lost their star player in the second ball of their innings with the scorecard reading zero, the 21-year-old pacer was thumping his chest in jubilation.

On a pitch which has slowed down and the ball has turned soft, the Karnataka duo of R Samarth and Paddikal put up a 57-run partnership after the fall of Rahul.

Bengal broke the partnership overturning the umpire's decision with a successful review from the bowling of Akash Deep who had Samarth plumb in front.

Mukesh Kumar fired Karun Nair (6) as the three pacemakers shared a wicket each at the end of the third day.

Padikkal, 19, remained undefeated with 50 in the company of Manish Pandey (11).

Earlier, Sudip Chatterjee (45) was Bengal 's top scorer in their second innings, while Majumdar and all-rounder Shahbaz Ahmed (31) continued their fine form in a 61-run partnership to prop up their overall lead after a familiar top-order collapse.

Mithun packed 04/23 and was his most impressive bowler, while Ronit More (2/56) fired Chatterjee and Shreevats Goswami from successive deliveries.

Initially, Majumdar was lucky and survived on 10 to revoke a decision with a successful review. An inner edge did not reach the stump when it was at 21.

But he broke free in the next ball with back-to-back boundaries pulling More, while Shahbaz also got into rhythm as the duo frustrated the Karnataka bowlers.

Krishnappa Gowtham (3/15) gave the breakthrough dismissing Ahmed and Bengal innings folded in 34 balls after lunch.

Brief scores:

Bengal : 312 and 161 in 54.4 overs (Sudip Chatterjee 45, Anustup Majumdar 41, Shahbaz Ahmed 31; Abhimanyu Mithun 4/23, Krishnappa Gowtham 3/15).

Karnataka: 122 and 98/3 in 38 overs (Devdutt Paddikkal 50 batting).

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