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Bengal hoping for a change in fortunes

Calcutta: In their quest to end the season on a high, Bengal begin their Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy zonal leg campaign on Sunday against Assam at the Maharaja Bir Bikram Stadium, in Agartala.

Much was expected from Bengal in the shorter format, especially after yet another disappointing show in the Ranji Trophy. But they lost in the Vijay Hazare Trophy semi-final against Delhi.

This Twenty20 meet, thus, provides Bengal with one last opportunity to have at least something to show for at the end of the season.

On the other hand, Assam would like to continue with the momentum they had gained by the reaching the Vijay Hazare Trophy final. However, Assam’s cause for concern is the pitch that has a sprinkling of grass, which should certainly encourage pacers, at least during the initial stages of the game.

Incidentally, in the last meeting between the two sides — the Vijay Hazare zonal leg tie at Eden Gardens — Assam were bundled out for less than 100, with Shami Ahmed and Veer Pratap Singh wrecking havoc.

Captain Abu Nechim Ahmed, though, sounds confident of turning the tide against the rivals. “The Eden wicket gave a big advantage to the teams fielding first. Bowlers got plenty of support early on. There is a bit of grass on this wicket too. But it’s not like the one that was on offer at the Eden. Overall, it will be a surface where batters can play their set of strokes,” he said on Saturday.

Bengal, however, seem quite excited with the nature of the track. “It will assist our bowlers. In any case, they have been bowling well lately,” said captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla.

For Bengal, a decent performance with the bat is all that they are hoping for. The reversals, this season, have been mostly due to an inept show even by the recognised names.

In order to get their batting right, Bengal are set to enforce changes in the line-up, with Shukla likely to go up the order at No. 4, followed by stumper Wriddhiman Saha.

Left-hander Sreevats Goswami and Subhamoy Das are likely to open. Sreevats is the automatic choice for the openers’ slot as far as the present squad is concerned.