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Speed trial awaits Bengal

Calcutta: Three points from the Ranji Trophy opener should have been enough for Bengal to claim that they have begun the season on a sound note. But with two days to go before they take on Punjab in their second match, in Mohali, there’s a lot to worry for the Manoj Tiwarys.

Not just because it is an away encounter — which obviously is will test the team’s mettle — but also for the fact that the Mohali track, in all probability, may be a green top with a good bit of assistance for the fast bowlers.

“Pacers should certainly get their due with solid bounce and carry as the pitch will have a greenish look… In other words, it’s a typical Mohali wicket. Nevertheless, batting will become easier as the game progresses as spinners too might come into play then,” a PCA official told The Telegraph from Mohali.

Punjab are upbeat after a resounding win by an innings and 68 runs over Hyderabad, a match in which their pacers exploited the pitch to its fullest. Siddharth Kaul, Manpreet Gony and Sandeep Sharma form a formidable pace-attack that would very well test Bengal’s best batsmen.

Barring Wriddhiman Saha, who performed well in both the innings at the Eden, where the ball did a fair bit till the very end, almost all Bengal batsmen huffed and puffed before returning to the pavilion. And to be honest, Punjab’s pace attack looks to be stronger than that of Rajasthan, at least on paper.

Bengal now would only hope that all their pacers fire so that the good work against Rajasthan doesn’t get spoiled by a disappointing result in the very next game. But do they have enough firepower? To be honest, they don’t. With just three medium-pacers — Ashok Dinda, Sourav Sarkar and Veer Pratap Singh — in the squad, they do not have an option to fall back on in case the need arises.

“We’ve a fair idea of the Mohali surface, although we’re yet to have a look at it. I don’t think it will be any different to the wickets that are generally prepared here. But no matter how the wicket is, we are prepared for a tough team like Punjab,” a confident Tiwary said on Wednesday.