The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bengal have task cut out

Mumbai: A homecoming of different sorts awaits Rohan Gavaskar when he will join Mumbai captain Paras Mhambrey for the toss of their four-day elite Ranji Trophy league match at Wankhede Stadium on Saturday.

The Bengal captain hails from Mumbai, but his has his job cut out for a much-improved performance against a team, which looks stronger and sharper in both bowling and batting departments.

The hosts may be handicapped with their pace spearhead Avishkar Salvi, sidelined due to injury. But, they have a decent new ball attack in Mhambrey and in-form allrounders Robin Morris and Nishit Shetty.

Off-spinner Ramesh Powar is also in form and vice captain Sairaj Bahutule always proves to be a tricky customer to handle, particularly on home front. Add to this the presence of former India spinner Nilesh Kulkarni.

From batting’s viewpoint, Mhambrey will obviously be hoping his top-order batsmen — Wasim Jaffer, Vinayak Mane, Milind Tamhane, Vinayak Samant, Harshad Rawle and Robin Morris — will have another run-feast at the Wankhede.

All this means, Mumbai is not going to be a cosy respite for Rohan and his team.

Apart from notching up a shocking win over defending champions Railways, Bengal have failed to add any point to their tally in four matches.

Bengal managed to avert defeat against Hyderabad in the previous match, thanks to Devang Gandhi’s 72 and needful contributions from Rohan and Amitava Chakraborty.

Laxmi Ratan Shukla is in fine nick, top-scoring in Bengal’s first innings in Hyderabad after his decent show in the East Zone one-dayers in Agartala.

Subhamoy Das, who had to be sent back to Calcutta after sustaining injury before the Hyderabad match, returned to the squad and will surely be a big boost for coach Sambaran Banerjee. He has been quite a mainstay in the middle-order and played some crucial innings under pressure including a precious 60 against Railways.

Utpal Chatterjee is again expected to lead a bowling attack, which lacks consistency and bite when required. Ranadeb Bose, discussed for World Cup probables but ignored from East Zone squad for the Deodhar Trophy, will definitely try to put himself back in national reckoning.

But the main problem is that Bengal are playing to their potential in patches. Therefore, it remains to be seen whether such a performance will help them glide through Mumbai challenges or they require more than this to add another point to their kitty.

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