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‘We aren’t intimidated’

Calcutta: For sure, Railways were the superior side in the league stage of the Ranji Trophy and deservedly topped the group.

Having said that, Bengal are in an advantageous position, not just because they are playing at home, but also due to the fact that the bonding between their players is quite strong, compared to their opponents who are more of an assembled unit. At least that is what Ashok Dinda feels.

When the two teams had met during the group stage in New Delhi, Railways had the last laugh, finishing with three points courtesy their first-innings lead.

But it’s a completely different scenario this time around when the two sides clash in the quarter final, beginning from Wednesday, at Eden Gardens.

Bengal are on a high with back-to-back outright victories. Importantly, the team seems to be peaking at the right time. “Look, we are aware of what we face in a team like Railways. We have already met them earlier in the group stage. We ought to give some of the Railways players their due respect,” Dinda said, after Monday’s training session.

“But at the same time, it’s a fact that they don’t have big names… Besides, we are a team where the bonding between each and every cricketer is pretty strong. We play together at the domestic level and know each other from the club level as well. Railways select players from here and there… So they don’t have a set team. We aren’t intimidated,” Dinda added.

Arindam Ghosh, with 602 runs in his kitty so far, has had a significant contribution in Railways’ rise. But Dinda is plotting his former Bengal teammate’s early departure from the crease.

“In every Ranji team, there will be a player or two who can make a difference. Arindam, definitely, is in very good form at the moment… But just as he knows us, we, too, are aware of his strengths and weaknesses,” the pacer pointed out.

Railways captain Murali Kartik’s ‘Mankading’ of Sandipan Das in New Delhi continues to be the talking point. But for the Bengal team management, the incident is more or less a closed chapter.

“We just don’t want to think about what happened in Delhi. All we are concerned at present is how to win this match,” Dinda said.

The juniors’ mature performances has also helped Bengal this season. “(Mohammed) Shami and I were busy doing national duty… As a result Bengal couldn’t field their full-strength team. But the juniors have stood up. Credit goes to them,” said senior pro Wriddhiman Saha.

“What’s more important is that we have had one or two performances that made the difference even in a low-scoring affair as we had seen in the game against Tamil Nadu,” the wicket-keeper said.

Bengal, however, would not be able to avail of Manoj Tiwary’s services as he’s yet to be declared fit. Manoj’s fitness was assessed at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore by physio Ashish Kaushik and it may take another week or two for him to regain full fitness.

“I have to undergo another three to four running sessions. Thereafter, I’ll be getting the progress report at the end of this week. I can’t take a risk just for one game and aggravate the injury. So, I’ll stay back here and return only after being declared 100 per cent fit,” Manoj said.

The CAB, meanwhile, has invited all the former national players and umpires from the state to be present during the match to encourage the Bengal team. For the general public, complimentary tickets will be distributed.