Veer Pratap Singh
Calcutta: The batsmen may have failed to deliver yet again, but the bowlers stood up and ensured Bengal began their Vijay Hazare Trophy zonal round campaign with a win.
Scoring a modest 202 after being put in, Bengal had Odisha reeling at 95 for six off 22.3 overs before play was abandoned because of rain. It only helped Bengal’s cause as Odisha fell way short off the revised target, giving Laxmi Ratan Shukla and his men a crucial 38-run victory (via the VJD method), at the JSCA Oval Ground, in Ranchi, on Thursday.
Pacer Veer Pratap Singh led from the front with three wickets. He dismissed Odisha captain Natraj Behera, Govind Podder and Biplab Samantray. Debutant B. Amit, too, impressed, taking two vital scalps, with Ashok Dinda picking up one.
The toss, which according to Shukla, had played a significant role in killing Bengal’s prospects in the Ranji Trophy semi-final against Maharashtra, did almost the same as pacers Basant Mohanty and Deepak Behera reduced them to 44 for four in the 15th over. With openers Wriddhiman Saha and Sreevats Goswami, along with comeback man Manoj Tiwary and Sourashish Lahiri — promoted up the order — back in the pavilion, Bengal certainly faced more than a tall order on a green-top.
However, as he has done over the last few years, captain Shukla (42) again rose to the occasion to pull his team out of the woods. The most positive aspect, though, was the contribution of Sudip Chatterjee, who was the top scorer with 68 invaluable runs. It was not just about scoring runs, the youngster showed excellent maturity during the course of his innings.
For the time being, it won’t be wrong in saying that Bengal have found an ideal No. 3 in their order. “Our partnership was the turning point. We could’ve been in for serious trouble if not for our 87-run stand (for the fifth wicket).
“What matters more is that Sudip got those runs on a green wicket, where batting wasn’t easy at all, especially in the morning session. His innings today just reflected his class,” Shukla told The Telegraph.
For his part, Sudip agreed this was a really tough knock that he had to grind out. "We were struggling at 40-odd for four. In that kind of a situation, the going really gets tougher. But I'm glad that I could step up and play an important knock. Credit to Laxmida too. His presence at the other end made things easier for me.
"I don't want to get into analyses and so on since I've just started playing at this level. I just want to keep on batting well and get as many runs as possible," he said.
Veer Pratap, too, is happy with his effort, but emphasised on the need to improve while bowling at the death overs.
“I need to get my slower ones and yorkers right because you have flat wickets in most of the places," he pointed out.