| The Assam team at the LGBI Airport in Guwahati on Monday. Telegraph picture |
Guwahati, March 4: Abu Nechim Ahmed and company reaped a rich harvest today with five of the Vijay Hazare Trophy runners-up team named in the East Zone squad for the Deodhar Trophy to be held here from Sunday.
Having put up a splendid show in Calcutta and Vishakhapatnam, skipper Abu Nechim, batsmen Pallav Das and Sibsankar Roy, pacer Pritam Das and allrounder Gokul Sharma have got another opportunity to showcase their worth at a slightly higher level.
“The icing on the cake is that Assam coach Subhrajit Saikia has been entrusted with the zonal duty, too, while Assam Cricket Association nominee Pradip Buragohain is appointed the team manager,” said ACA secretary Bikash Baruah. “Performance in the Deodhar Trophy tournament counts directly in the selection of the national senior squads and our boys are definitely in peak form and will deliver here too.”
Dheeraj Jadhav, Abu Nechim and left-arm spinner Deepak Gohain were named in the zonal squad for last year’s tournament at Mohali.
The state squad arrived here to a grand welcome by the ACA at the Nehru Stadium here this afternoon. Ferried on board a decorated truck in a procession from the airport to the ACA office, firecrackers started bursting for nearly an hour as the truck rolled through the gate.
The squad landed here without skipper Abu Nechim and stumper Rajdeep Das, who flew to Delhi to represent their employers Oil India Ltd in the PSPB meet, apart from outstation professionals Dheeraj Jadhav and Syed Mohammad and coach Subhrajit Saikia, who flew to Jharkhand to attend the zonal selection meeting today.
“We would have been even happier if we could have brought home the trophy. Anyway it has boosted our morale,” said senior player Gokul Sharma. “I would like to give the credit to the conditioning camp before we left for Calcutta and as far as my own performance is concerned, I got the motivation after meeting Rahul Dravid in the Rajasthan Royals trial camp. It is going to help us in the long run.”
For Pritam Das, too, it was kind of a comeback after he had performed in the under-25 level this time. “I got the opportunity and did my bit as I was told to do. But it was team effort. Everyone chipped in with their own contributions in every game,” he said.
While Pallav Das made the cut, the youngest among the pacers, Arup Das missed a berth in the zonal squad.
One of the highest wicket-takers for Assam in the current season, Arup got the wicket of Rohit Sharma to help Assam humble 40-time Ranji champions Mumbai in the quarter-finals.
“It is always better to take one thing at a time and I am going to concentrate on the upcoming T20 tournament now,” Das said.
For Sibsankar Roy, there “should not be any looking back from here because we have attained a stage from where we will have to scale newer heights every day”.