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No pressure, says Shukla

Bangalore: The contrasting moods of the two camps showed during practice on Thursday.

While Tamil Nadu yearned to carry forward the momentum they have sustained through the league phase, Bengal seemed quite content in qualifying for the Super League, though Laxmi Ratan Shukla did cajole his batsmen to produce big knocks in the crucial Ranji Trophy quarter final match at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium.

“Quite obviously we want to carry forward the momentum we have maintained through the season,” said Tamil Nadu coach W. V. Raman.

Commending his boys for their good showing, the former India opener said: “We are a positive lot and whenever we have been in a tight corner, somebody has put his hand up and brought us back into the game. It happened against Karnataka when we were three down for nothing but we went on to make a big total.

“Also, we were on the mat against Baroda, but the boys fought back to win the game after conceding the first-innings lead.”

Raman attributed Tamil Nadu’s success to a balanced team. “We have a balanced side with a fairly good crop of batsmen and bowlers. The return of wicketkeeper batsman Dinesh Karthik has given balance to the side.”

He was happy with the bowling attack as well.

“Ashwin and C. Suresh have done well as spinners. But I am heartened by the way the fast bowlers have performed, at least in the split of wickets among them.

Laxmipathy Balaji has been the pick with 23 wickets. (Palani) Amarnath and Ganapthy have made themselves count, too, restricting Yo Mahesh to only a couple of games.

Having coached Bengal in the past, Raman was wary of Laxmi Ratan Shukla’s boys. “We should be able to put it across them looking at how we have done through the tournament. But having said that, Bengal are a good side and anything can happen in a four-day match,” said Raman.

He pitched for a five-day game.

“The knockout matches have to be a five-day affair. As the first innings lead is going to be crucial in these games, one bad session means a good side will have no chance of a comeback. An extra day, I believe, would provide an opportunity to rally back into the game.”

Shukla felt Bengal were under more pressure when playing in the Plate group.

“We have been taking it match by match throughout the tournament. But I must say after reaching the quarter finals, we have been under less pressure… In Plate we walked into each match with the pressure of a must-win situation. We had the pressure of qualifying for the Super League. But now that we are in it, we can relax a bit,” said Shukla.

The 27-year-old called on his batsmen to produce big scores.

“As a team we have played well. Although our batting has been good, we need to come up with big knocks.”

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