Calcutta/Indore: Inability to win home matches and plunging to horrible defeats in the away ties, Team Bengal's 2012-13 Ranji Trophy season, like the last few years, is heading nowhere.
It defies logic to think that a team which is stuffed with players who are regularly in contention for the India senior and India A squads falls face first when faced with an away challenge.
A few days ago it were Punjab who thrashed the Woorkeri Raman-coached side. On Tuesday, Madhya Pradesh rubbed more salt on the wound, inflicting a 138-run defeat on Bengal.
MP pacer Ishwar Pandey stole the limelight with his second five-wicket haul of the match as the dramatic final day of the match saw 17 wickets tumble.
Pandey took five wickets for 58 to help the hosts shoot Bengal out for just 138, in their pursuit of a 277-run target. He thus ended with match figures of 10 for 145. Ishwar had taken 5/87 in Bengal's first innings in the Group A match, at the Holkar Cricket Stadium. Amarjeet Singh and Anand Rajan bagged two and one wicket, respectively.
There might be a debate on whether the target was achievable or not, but there was no way that Bengal could have lost the match. But then, Bengal often do the impossible… Remember how they failed to wipe out the Gujarat tail in the last match at the Eden?
In the chase, none of the Bengal batsman could rise to the occasion. With captain Wriddhiman Saha and Sreevats Goswami top-scoring with an identical 29, it is well understood how pathetic Bengal's batting display was.
The visiting side's highest partnership was the 43-run opening stand between Goswami and Partha-sarathi Bhattacharjee (19) as Bengal were all out in just 45.5 overs. In four-day cricket, if you can't bat for at least 50 overs, there's no point playing.
For MP, it was a happy occasion as they notched up their maiden win of the season so far.
The day, however, had begun with promise for Bengal. MP could add 98 runs to their overnight score of 135 for three to be all out for 233 in their second innings. They batted for 32 overs in the day.
Overnight batsmen Ankit Sharma and Udit Birla added 17 and 14 runs respectively to their individual overnight scores while Rameez Khan remained unbeaten on 27.
Shami Ahmed, who took a hat-trick in the first innings, finished with four scalps in the second essay. Veer Pratap Singh bagged three wickets while Sourav Sarkar netted two.
With six points from the win, MP are now second in Group A with 11 points from four matches. Bengal, on the other hand, are on six points from four matches. They are yet to win a match this season, having lost twice and drawn twice.
Bengal's next match is against Mumbai, in Mumbai.
In the wake of the defeat, changes in the squad are likely though the present one was finalised for the matches against Mumbai and Saurashtra as well. The team management might opt for Arindam Das and left-hander Rohan Banerjee as openers against Mumbai.
Against the seasoned Mumbai team, they will have to summon their best skills into action, otherwise more embarrassment is awaiting the team.