MP's Kumar Kartikeya, Saransh Jain lead rout of Punjab in quarter-finals

Spinners take ten wickets between them to bowl Punjab out for 203 in the second innings and propel MP to semi-finals

Madhya Pradesh 397 (Shubham 102, Mantri 89, Choudhary 5-83) and 26 for 0 (Dubey 17*) beat Punjab 219 (Abhishek 47, Anmolpreet 47, Agarwal 3-36, Datey 3-48) and 203 (Malhotra 34, Markande 33, Kartikeya 6-50, Jain 4-100) by ten wickets

If it was the seamers Puneet Datey and Anubhav Agarwal who seized the initiative for Madhya Pradesh on the first day of their Ranji Trophy quarter-final against Punjab, spinners Kumar Kartikeya and Saransh Jain took charge in the second innings to lead a ten-wicket rout. Madhya Pradesh now await the winners of the Bengal-Jharkhand match in the semi-final.

Punjab folded for 203 in the second innings, leaving a paltry 26 for Madhya Pradesh to chase down, which openers Himanshu Mantri and Yash Dubey achieved without much fuss, although Gurkeerat Singh Mann failed to hold on to a chance offered by Mantri off the bowling of Punjab captain Abhishek Sharma.

Punjab resumed play on day four at 120 for 5, still 58 adrift of making their opponents bat again. Wicketkeeper-batter Anmol Malhotra (34) and Siddarth Kaul (31) began steadily, raising visions of taking the game deep, and perhaps even setting Punjab on course for a healthy lead. They blunted the spin of Kartikeya and the seam of Datey equally effectively, and Kaul chanced his arm to punish anything loose. However, this positivity from Kaul would also end the partnership – he was stumped in an attempt to step out and heave Jain over midwicket.

That set off a sequence of quick wickets that Punjab could never recover from. Sanvir Singh was bowled second ball by Kartikeya and then the left-arm spinner got the well-set Malhotra, taken at slip by Rajat Patidar. Mayank Markande batted with freedom, clouting a four and three sixes in an unbeaten 33 off 37 balls, but it only served to delay the inevitable, as Jain picked up the wickets of Vinay Choudhary and Baltej Singh inside three deliveries to finish off the Punjab innings.

Having conceded a first-innings deficit of 178, Punjab had struggled to stitch together anything meaningful for the second innings in a row. Their top and middle order, filled with experience and quality, failed to navigate the web spun by Kartikeya. On a pitch that had started taking turn, Kartikeya got both Shubman Gill and Mandeep Singh to edge to Patidar at slip. Jain joined in the fun at the other end, dismissing the joint top-scorers of the first innings Abhishek and Anmolpreet. That left the lower middle order to wage a battle on what turned out to be the final day of the contest, one that ceased to be as soon as Kaul’s wicket fell.

Earlier, Madhya Pradesh rode on Shubham Sharma’s 102 to post a total of 397 in the first innings after bowling Punjab out for a paltry 219. Mantri and Rajat Patidar fell 11 and 15 runs short of centuries, respectively, while Akshat Raghuwanshi scored 69. Left-arm wrist spinner Vinay Choudhary starred with five wickets for Punjab in the first innings, while Siddharth Kaul and Markande chipped in with two wickets apiece. However, Madhya Pradesh’s lead had swelled by then.