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Momentum is with us: Ashok

Calcutta: Pacer Veer Pratap Singh and all-rounder Sayan Sekhar Mondal have been added to the Bengal squad for the Ranji Trophy semi-final against Maharashtra, starting from Saturday.

According to chairman of selectors Deep Dasgupta, Veer Pratap was included keeping in mind the assistance the wicket in Indore offers to pacers during the initial stages.

Efforts were also being made to make provisions for Manoj Tiwary and Sayan Sekhar Mondal, as the selectors wanted to induct them into the squad as well, if declared fit. Sayan Sekhar will be undergoing a fitness test on Tuesday. But as far as Manoj is concerned, it was learnt that he’s not yet fit enough and could resume playing only if Bengal manage to reach the final.

However, coach Ashok Malhotra is focusing on the winning combination that has seen the team through in the last three matches.

“At the Ranji level, you can’t give the excuse that you’re a junior player. There’s room only for professionals and for those who are ready to shoulder the bulk of the workload.

“Maharashtra have Vijay Zol, while Tamil Nadu have Baba Aparajith. And both of them have contributed to their teams’ cause.

“Talking about us, we have done what’s required in our previous matches. The good work should continue because the guys have proved they have the capability to turn things around,” he said at the Eden on Monday.

Speaking about the semi-final against an upbeat Maharashtra, Malhotra said: “Maharashtra are a very good side. It does require something to beat a team of Mumbai’s stature.

“Having said that, you need to get past any opponent that comes your way if you want to win the Ranji Trophy. Also remember that momentum is with us.”

Meanwhile, the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) will put up a goodwill board in the form of a 100-foot hoarding on Tuesday to wish good luck to the Bengal team. Captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla, coach Malhotra, Sourav Ganguly and CAB president Jagmohan Dalmiya will be present on the occasion.

THE SQUAD

Laxmi Ratan Shukla (captain), Arindam Das, Subhomoy Das, Abhimanya Easwaran, Sudip Chatterjee, Wriddhiman Saha, Koushik Ghosh, Writtick Chatterjee, Sourasish Lahiri, Sourav Sarkar, Shib Shankar Paul, Ashok Dinda, Gitimoy Basu, Sourav Mondal, Iresh Saxena, Arnab Nandi, Sandipan Das, Veer Pratap Singh.