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Laxmi lauds Ashok

Calcutta: He could have easily hogged the limelight having played a stunningly defiant knock in adversity, but Bengal captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla didn’t do so.

Instead, he ensured that Ashok Dinda, who played a stellar role in earning Bengal a three-run lead, which apart from being a psychological edge may also turn out to be crucial in deciding the fate of the match, got a share of the attention.

“It was an excellent effort from Dinda today… But then, he has been putting up outstanding performances in almost all our matches. What a spell it was from him today! He is a senior bowler and we expect such spells from him. Dinda actually charged us up for the rest of the day… In fact, all the bowlers bowled their hearts out and deserve praise for that,” Shukla said.

At the end of the third day’s play, Bengal have an overall lead of 136 runs. Shukla knows that is not enough, stressing that no target is a safe target. “We need to bat well on the fourth day… We need to put up a good score on the board for the bowlers to give a fight. No target is a safe target on this pitch,” he said.

Dinda, on the other hand, thanked his captain for the support. “The captain always reminds me that I’m the strike bowler of the team. He never goes on the backfoot and believes in our abilities. This helps us to play well as a team,” the man, who took six wickets in Railways’ first innings, said.

Shukla, however, played down the on-field chit-chats which kept the players busy on Friday. “This is cricket… Not a child’s play… It is a tough sport and it is played in that spirit. There are things which happen on the field and it is better we leave them back on the field. We are not bothered about such things,” Shukla said.

Asked if Saturday’s morning session will be extremely crucial for them, Shukla said: “Why only Saturday? To win the match, one needs to be alert on all the days. We don’t think about the past and all our focus is now on the remaining two days of the match,” the captain explained.