Calcutta: One shouldn’t complain about the start Bengal have got off to at this Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
Laxmi Ratan Shukla and company had most things right in their tournament opener against Assam the other day. But there’s a fair amount of difference between Assam and Jharkhand, who Bengal face on Thursday, at the Eden.
Quality wise, Jharkhand are a good distance ahead of Assam. Bengal coach Ashok Malhotra was at the Eden on Wednesday to have a look at the Jharkhand side that took on Tripura. Skipper Shukla, too, had joined later after a session at the gym.
So, in order to come out on top against them, Bengal do need to lift their performance and avoid the small mistakes, which could well take huge proportions against a formidable opponent in Jharkhand.
Batting, which has been Bengal’s problematic area, did show resilience in the previous game. But with the rival camp comprising bowlers in Rahul Shukla and Jaskaran Singh, along with tweaker Shahbaz Nadeem, it’s imperative Bengal’s senior batsmen lead from the front.
Although he struggled a bit with his timing, Manoj Tiwary had still contributed with 32 runs. But Bengal mull promoting Wriddhiman Saha to open the innings with Vivek Singh, who had impressed against Assam.
Not just because of Wriddhiman’s present form, especially after his 27-ball hundred at the J.C. Mukherjee T20 Trophy, it’s also due to Sudip Chatterjee’s scratchy show the other day that the stumper is being tipped to open.
Of course, Tuesday’s game was Sudip’s first appearance in the T20 format, but against a side like Jharkhand, it would certainly be beneficial for Bengal if both openers fire.
“Wriddhi is in good form and we need someone at the top of the order who’s capable of playing all the shots. As far as the team combination is concerned, we’ll take a call before the start tomorrow,” Shukla said.
If Sudip is dropped from the final XI, Pankaj Shaw or Abhishek Das could come in as his replacement.