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Bengal eye fresh start in battle for survival

Calcutta: Bengal have pushed themselves to the wall. The only escape route is an outright win in their last Super League game, against Andhra Pradesh. Anything less than that will relegate them to the Plate Division of the Ranji Trophy.

The need of the hour is to stay focused and relaxed. Coach Bharat Arun and skipper Laxmi Ratan Shukla know that.

“It’s obviously a very important match for us. But I am enjoying the pressure. The basic idea is to stay relaxed and focused,” said Arun on Monday, the eve of the four-day match at the Eden.

“It will be a tough game… We have to stay calm and concentrate. We must start afresh,” was what Shukla had to say. Having lost three of their five matches Bengal will indeed need a fresh start.

The hosts will go into the match with three quicks — Ranadeb Bose, Shib Shankar Paul and Ashok Dinda. The spin department will be taken care of by debutant Priyankar Mukherjee, with Manoj Tiwary and Kamal Hasan Mondal providing the back-up. Dinda is in the XI at Sourav Sarkar’s expense, while Priyankar takes the berth vacated by Sourashish Lahiri. The third change from the line-up that crashed to an innings defeat to Uttar Pradesh is Rana Chowdhury for Soham Ghosh.

“We have decided to give Mondal another chance. In the last match he got two rough decisions… But he handled pressure situations well which is important,” Arun said.

The Eden wicket pleased the Bengal coach. “It is definitely a result-oriented track. I feel a score of 250 to 300 will be competitive,” said Arun.

Shukla was not so sure. “We have not played a single match on this particular wicket... I hope it will be a good one,” said the captain.

Andhra are as keen as Bengal to notch up an outright win. “It’s a crucial match for both teams and that should make for a good contest,” Andhra coach Syed Abid Ali said after a strenuous three-hour session.

Baroda are atop group B with 18 points, followed by UP (14), Punjab (13) and Andhra (12). Punjab are through with their matches, while UP take on Hyderabad in another last round tie.

Captain and wicketkeeper M.S.K. Prasad said Andhra are banking on their batsmen.


Bengal: Arindam Das, Anustup Majumdar, Wriddhiman Saha, Manoj Tiwary, Rana Chowdhury, Kamal Hasan Mondal, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Priyankar Mukherjee, Ashok Dinda, Ranadeb Bose, Shib Shankar Paul

Andhra (from): M.S.K. Prasad, Gnaneswara Rao, A.G. Pradeep, Israel Raju, Doddapaneni Kalyankrishna, Prasad Reddy, V.V.B. Reddy, V. Sandeep, Shankara Rao, Bodapati Sumanth, Marripuri Suresh, Satya Kumar Varma, Hemal Watekar, P. Vijay Kumar

Umpires: Suresh Shastri, M.S. Pathak

Match Referee: B. Raghunath

Match starts: 9am.

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