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Batting Bengal’s sole cause for concern

Manoj Tiwary

Calcutta: A look at the points table would only suggest that Bengal have nothing much to worry about as far as reaching the pre-quarter finals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy is concerned.

Reality, though, hints of the problems that Bengal may face, especially with their batting, as the competition progresses. Chances of a reversal against the lowly ranked Tripura, who they face at the JU Salt Lake Campus ground on Thursday, are less. But the team management has realised that it’s high time the batsmen deliver before it’s too late.

Of course, the in-form Manoj Tiwary’s comeback will bolster the batting line-up. Now, keeping aside Tiwary’s inclusion, there cannot be any better platform for the remaining batsmen than playing Tripura, who have so far been the punching bags in this zonal leg.

The axing of opener Arindam Das along with Debabrata Das, both of whom have been found wanting against Odisha and Jharkhand, is a clear indication that the team won’t be carrying non-performers. On the other hand, it’s also a signal to the replacements — Jayojit Basu and Sanjib Sanyal — that they too might suffer the same fate if they fail to deliver.

However, the induction of all-rounder Sanyal, who’s a consistent performer in the local circuit, does provide the hosts with a proper option. In fact, with off-spinner Saurasish Lahiri not coming up with any meaningful contribution — neither with the ball nor as an opener — drafting Sanyal in the playing XI won’t be a bad idea.

Besides, the JU wicket has offered a fair bit of assistance to the quicks so far in the competition. So without doubt, it should assist Sanyal’s medium-pace as well.

Sanyal’s presence will also strengthen Bengal’s bowling attack, which has been disciplined for a better part of the season, except a few occasions.

Coming back to the hosts’ batting, the opening pair conundrum, too, is an aspect that they need to address. Pairing Jayojit with Suvamoy Das is certainly a possibility. But considering how Jayojit struggled in the initial phase of the Ranji Trophy, the option of sending the seasoned Anustup Majumdar up as an opener cannot be ruled out.

Precisely, captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla and stumper Wriddhiman Saha are the only ones consistent in their performance this season, apart from Tiwary. On Thursday as well, the duo need to extend their good run and ensure they convert their starts into big ones instead of leaving Tiwary with too much work to do.

Talking about Shukla, he’s truly been Bengal’s saving grace for the past couple of years or so. The all-rounder, on failing with the bat, has made sure he rectifies it with a match-winning effort with the ball.

Importantly, he wants his troops to guard against complacency, which could be Bengal’s biggest threat against Tripura. Rightly so, as a reversal on Thursday may seriously affect Bengal’s morale when they face a much stronger opposition in Assam the very next day.

Moving on to Tripura, they would certainly love to finish with a hurrah in what was an extremely disappointing campaign for them. They are due for one last chance on Thursday if Bengal batsmen continue to remain vulnerable.