Calcutta: Bengal captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla’s confidence must be infectious.
Shukla has this unique way shrugging off pressure situations… Off the field with a quote off the front foot, on the ground with a defiant hook. The way the Bengal team have been playing, toying with pressures, it seems they are following the ‘Shukla way’.
“Why will there be any extra pressure just because it’s a semi-final? There’s no pressure. It’s just another match for us. An important match,” Shukla said on the eve of the Ranji Trophy last-four game against Maharashtra, in Indore.
But make no mistake, Shukla isn’t advising over-confidence. “All teams have there strengths and we never take any team lightly… Not at this level. We are focused on doing our work correctly… if we can do that, things become much easier,” the captain added.
Ashok Dinda, vice-captain of the team, too sounded confident. “It’s not different from any other match… We have done our homework and have plans how to handle their in-form batsmen. We will give our best,” the speedster said.
Maharashtra’s young batsman Vijay Zol recently said that batting successfully against Zaheer Khan (in the quarter final against Mumbai) makes him confidence of doing well against the likes of Dinda.
The Bengal pacer accepted the challenge. “We know their batsmen… Kedar Jadhav, Zol… They may have had success against Zaheer Khan, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t give my best. We will see,” Dinda said.
Zol, on the other hand, spoke of the team’s confidence after the stunning win against Mumbai.
Before the match beginning Saturday, Bengal have played in the Ranji Trophy semi-finals 30 times. They have progressed to the final on 13 occasions.
Total matches: 8
Bengal won: 2
Maharashtra won: 1
Drawn: 5 (1st inngs lead: Bengal 3, Maharashtra 2)
First match: 1971-72, quarter final, at Eden Gardens — Bengal won by 8 wkts
Last match: 2009-10, group league match, at Pune Club Ground — Bengal won by 7 wkts
Bengal: 525 (Calcutta, 1997-98)
Maharashtra: 585 (Pune, 1985-86)
Bengal: 143 (Calcutta, 1973-74)
Maharashtra: 136 (Calcutta, 1971-72)
HIGHEST INDIVIDUAL SCORES
Bengal: 159, Sourav Ganguly (Pune, 2005-06)
Maharashtra: 207*, Chandu Borde (Pune, 1972-73)
Bengal: 7/93, Sourasish Lahiri (Pune, 2005-06)
Maharashtra: 5/48, Pandurang Salgaonkar (Calcutta, 1973-74)