The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Alokendu, Nikhil likely in squad

Calcutta, Dec. 14: Completing the one-day triumph, the Bengal players now have their eyes focussed on their next Ranji Trophy away encounter against Hyderabad starting Thursday.

According to sources, Nikhil Haldipur and Alokendu Lahiri are likely to make the team. Nikhil will open the innings with Deep Dasgupta while Alokendu will strengthen the middle-order. The axe may then fall on opener Amitava Chakraborty and all-rounder Sanjib Sanyal.

The Bengal team returned to the city from Agartala Saturday morning. Coach Sambaran Banerjee does not intend to take any credit for the performance and says it’s the “positive attitude” of the players that has done the trick.

“I have always believed that this team has the abilities to strike it rich. My role has been to just motivate the boys,” Sambaran told The Telegraph Saturday. “I have spoken to each of the players individually and urged them to give 200 percent. It has worked wonders till now. The gameplan has also clicked and we’ve been able to get the break throughs at the right time,” he added.

“I warned Nikhil that this is his last opportunity and that he has to concentrate harder and start every match afresh. I hope he stays among runs.”

The coach feels that the win over Railways in Siliguri in their last Ranji game, before the break for the one-dayers, has been the turning point. “They are a tough opponent and the victory did wonders to the confidence. “True, the one-dayers were a different ball game but when you have faith in your abilities, it always reflects on your performance.”

The victory over Orissa in the one-day meet has been a case in point. “I couldn’t digest losing to Orissa for the last two seasons. Talent-wise, we are miles ahead and it was just a matter of improvising at the right time,” Sambaran added.

He said Laxmi Ratan Shukla’s performance and the batting of Rohan Gavaskar and Devang Gandhi have come in handy. “Initially Laxmi wasn’t bowling well but he has improved of late.”

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