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Ranji Trophy Semifinals | Karnataka Favourites Against Bengal, Saurashtra & Gujarat Evenly Matched

Ranji Trophy Semifinals | Karnataka Favourites Against Bengal, Saurashtra & Gujarat Evenly Matched

The already-strong Karnataka are bolstered further by the presence of KL Rahul for their semifinal clash against hosts Bengal at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

Karnataka vs Bengal

The already-strong Karnataka are bolstered further by the presence of KL Rahul for their semifinal clash against hosts Bengal at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

Karnataka, winners in 2013-14 and 2014-15, came into the semifinal after beating Jammu & Kashmir in Jammu. There were moments when it seemed like J&K would take the first-innings lead, but Karnataka showed they're a champion side and fought back to win the game.

Karnataka haven't been at their best this year, but the fact that they've made it to the semifinal even without bringing their A game regularly says how strong they are. They have a strong batting unit starting with Devdutt Padikkal, who has made 583 runs in nine matches, although his form has tapered off in the latter stages.

With Rahul coming in to the side which already has Karun Nair, Manish Pandey and K Siddharth who played crucial knocks in Jammu, Karnataka have a problem of plenty. It remains to be seen if Rahul will slot in as a wicketkeeper.

K Gowtham has been in superb form with the ball apart from contributing small cameos with the bat. His seven-wicket haul helped Karnatak rout J&K, giving them momentum into the semifinal. The pace attack, with Abhimanyu Mithun and Prasidh Krishna, is strong too.

Bengal will fancy their chances given how they've fought from tough situations through the season. Abhimanyu Easwaran, the captain, has not been in the best of forms but senior batsman Manoj Tiwary has taken control with 651 runs from nine games. Anustup Majumdar and Shahbaz Ahmed played crucial hands in their quarterfinal victory over Odisha too.

Left-arm spinner Shahbaz has been their best bowler, with 30 wickets to his name. Young pacer Ishan Porel has been in fine form too, and they will have a big challenge against Karnataka's line up.

Karnataka Squad: Ravikumar Samarth, Devdutt Padikkal, Lokesh Rahul, Karun Nair(c), Krishnamurthy Siddharth, Manish Pandey, Srinivas Sharath(w), Krishnappa Gowtham, Jagadeesha Suchith, Abhimanyu Mithun, Ronit More, Shreyas Gopal, Prasidh Krishna, Prateek Jain, Sharath BR

Bengal Squad: Koushik Ghosh, Abhimanyu Easwaran(c), Abhishek Raman, Arnab Nandi, Manoj Tiwary, Anustup Majumdar, Shreevats Goswami(w), Shahbaz Ahmed, Mukesh Kumar, Ishan Porel, Nilkantha Das, Ashok Dinda, Sudip Chatterjee, Writtick Chatterjee, Sayan Ghosh, Agniv Pan, Shreyan Chakraborty

Saurashtra v Gujarat

The bowling strengths of hosts Saurashtra and Gujarat will be put to test on what is likely to be a flat track when the two sides battle it out in Rajkot.

The Jaydev Unadkat-led side runs into a strong Gujarat team, which has built its momentum slowly through the tournament.

But last year's runner-up, Saurashtra will look to cash in on the home advantage with an all-round display.

Gujarat comes into the game after thrashing Goa by a whopping 464 runs, while Saurashtra made the grade courtesy a massive first innings lead against Andhra.

Gujarat skipper Parthiv Patel struck form at the right time with a superb century in the quarterfinal after having endured indifferent outing in the league phase and will be keen to carry on the momentum.

All their other batsmen -- be it Bhargav Merai (621 runs), Manprit Juneja (449 runs) or Samit Gohel have runs under their belt and would be expected to play their parts.

Gujarat opener Priyank Panchal has endured a lean run by his own standard and would be raring to find form at the SCA Stadium here.

Pacers Roosh Kalaria (33 wickets), who also excelled with the bat in the quarter-final, and Arzan Nagaswalla (34 wickets) have done exceedingly well but it will be a challenge for them to bowl on a placid track.

Spinner Siddharth Desai is expected to play a crucial role, especially on the fourth and fifth days.

For Saurashtra, coached by former India pacer Karsan Ghavri, skipper Unadkat has led from the front by picking up 55 wickets, the most by any bowler this season.

He will, however need support from his teammates. Spinner Dharmendrasinh Jadeja will have to step up his game if Saurashtra hope to restrict a strong Gujarat batting line-up.

On the batting front, Sheldon Jackson (680 runs) and Arpit Vasavada (515 runs) have been their mainstays. But the likes of Harvik Desai, Snell Patel have under-performed and need to give the hosts a solid start.

It will thus be a battle of equals as the teams match in each and each department and whoever handles pressure better, will advance to the final.

The teams will also have the option of DRS, which makes its debut in the tournament. Both the sides will be given four referrals per innings however the technology will not have Hawk Eye and Ultra Edge, two key components of the DRS used in international games.

Teams (From):

Saurashtra: Jaydev Unadkat (Captain), Sheldon Jackson, Kamlesh Makwana, Arpit Vasavada, Chirag Jani, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Harvik Desai, Snell Patel (WK), Kishan Parmar, Avi Barot (WK), Prerak Mankad, Samarth Vyas, Vishwaraj Jadeja, Kushang Patel, Chetan Sakariya, Parth Bhut.

Gujarat: Parthiv Patel (Captain), Priyank Panchal, Manprit Juneja, Chirag Gandhi Bhargav Merai, Rujul Bhatt, Dhruv Raval, Kshitij Patel, Roosh Kalaria, Chintan Gaja Arzan Nagwasvalla, Smit Gohil, Siddharth Desai, Tejas Patel.

With inputs from PTI