Calcutta: Bengal started the 2002-03 season Ranji Trophy season with high hopes. But as 2003 starts, they are hopingfor something rather less fanciful. They are hoping to win a fight of a different kind on their hands, that is, to save themselves from relegation.
The loss against Mumbai has left last season’s semi-finalists gasping on two points from five games. Any slip-up in the next two games — against Delhi and Andhra Pradesh — and Bengal will find themselves playing the relegation play-offs.
However, coach Sambaran Banerjee is not ready to give in so easily. “Yes, we are in a precarious position, but we won’t go down without a fight,” the coach said. He also sounded quite confident of clearing the relegation zone.
“In our next match, against Delhi (starting January 25), we will go for one point. But our most important match will surely be against Andhra Pradesh at home.
“In that game, we’ll have to go for bonus point. It’s a home match and we want to make use of all the advantage available,” the coach added.
When it comes to utilising the home advantage, it can be noted that Banerjee’s prescription for a spinning track in the home match against Himachal Pradesh fell on deaf ears and they were presented with a seaming track.
However, Banerjee is not ready to pin the blame for the Mumbai nightmare on his boys alone. Slamming the umpiring, he lamented, “You cannot fight when the umpires decide to let you down. At time it really seemed that they are motivated in letting us down.”
But he did not defend the team’s poor batting in the second innings. Bengal were bundled out for 179 with Sairaj Bahutule taking six wickets. “Laxmi (Ratan Shukla) and Utpal (Chatterjee) played well, but the batsmen have to perform if we have to stay in the elite zone,” the coach signed off.
Meanwhile, it was learnt that the performances of Alokendu Lahiri and Amitava Chakraborty have disappointed the team management and they are likely to be dropped for the next match.
Ambar takes three
The South Zone U-19 team were 129 for five on the first day of their match against East Zone at Rohtak Wednesday. Bengal medium-pacer Ambar Roy took three wickets for East.