The Bengal-Karnataka Ranji Trophy Super League Group A match petered out into a tame draw at the Eden Gardens on Tuesday. The skipper of the Bengal team had talked about a declaration at lunch. However, the moment the doctors advised him to rest his right hand, which has suffered a hairline fracture of the thumb, Chatterjee decided to bat on. At the end of the day's play he was quite frank when he said, "I would have declared if I had a supporting bowler. It would have been no use to play on and risk further injury to my right hand."
For the record, Bengal scored 264 for the loss of nine wickets. Set a target of 312 for an outright win in 25 overs, Karnataka scored 52 runs for the loss of Mithun Beerala's wicket in 18 overs before both the sides agreed to a draw. However, Beerala's dismissal was marked by some ugly scenes between him and bowler Lakshmi Ratan Shukla. After getting a leg before decision in his favour, Shukla had some words for Beerala. The latter than advanced threateningly towards the bowler with the bat upraised. However, prompt intervention by Syed Saba Karim and non-striker Roland Barrington prevented any major incident. Later on, Shukla said, "He was abusing me when I batted. So I just said after I dismissed him that I was a better cricketer than him." The Karnataka batsman however, refused to talk about the incident.
There were two good innings played today. First Devang Gandhi scored a pleasing 88 with the help of 12 boundaries. More than the runs scored, it was the manner in which Gandhi batted. The confidence was there and he even tackled a good spell from Venkatesh Prasad and Dodda Ganesh in the morning. Then Saba Karim batted fluently to score his second half century of the match. He made 55 with five boundaries and a lovely six over mid wicket of Sunil Joshi. Karim now seems to have found a new impetus with Saurav Ganguly as the captain of the Indian team. He batted so fluently that the Karnataka bowlers failed to dismiss him even once. Shukla chipped in with a quickfire 37 of 28 balls that had six boundaries and a six of A.Vijay over long on. For Karnataka, the two left arm spinners Joshi and Vadeyaraj finished with three and four wickets respectively.
Even though Bengal finished the match with five points, their chances of qualifying for the next stage look slim, especially since their last match is against a strong Mumbai side. Bengal now have 13 points from three games. So even if they get five points against Mumbai, they will reach 18. If Karnataka manages to achieve an outright victory against Delhi, then they will have 19 points. So a number of factors will have to work for Bengal if they expect to qualify. As Chatterjee pointed out the match against Rajasthan in which Bengal had to remain satisfied with three points may turn out to be the real nail in the coffin for Bengal.