Calcutta: Reigning champions Rajasthan, who will be playing their opening Ranji Trophy match against Bengal at the Eden from Friday, never knew what they had in store when they landed in the city, on Wednesday morning.
The hotel, which the Rajasthan Cricket Association had booked for its players, was not to the liking of the Hrishikesh Kanitkars. So the entire contingent had a quick lunch at a Park Street restaurant and then headed straight to Eden Gardens for a practice session.
Rajasthan got a hotel to their liking only after the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) intervened.
“The Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) intimated us that they will take care of their own accommodation… They only asked us to provide the transportation. It was in the afternoon that they told us about their players’ predicament and we got into the picture,” CAB joint-secretary Sujan Mukherjee said.
Rajasthan bowling coach, former South African pacer Meyrick Pringle, did not mince words. “We are really disappointed. But we utilised the time by holding a practice session.”
Captain Kanitkar though played it safe. “As professional cricketers, we have to take these situations in our stride. We don’t want to concentrate on these issues. We have an important match coming up. We want to stay focussed… We want to start our campaign on a positive note.”
Speaking about the match, the former Maharashtra captain said: “We are well-prepared. We have done our homework. Our players will be up for the challenge. Bengal are a brilliant side and have excellent players like Manoj Tiwary, Wriddhiman Saha and Ashok Dinda… They are all part of the national squad and they will want to use their international experience. So we have to be careful… It will be a mistake to take them lightly. We have to play positive cricket and we cannot afford them any space.”
While Bengal have a number of players, who are part of the national team, Rajasthan do not possess any such names. Still they won the Ranji Trophy two times on the trot. Asked about the reason behind their success, the former India player said: “It’s true that we don’t have any stars… But we do not rely on individual performances. We rely on team game and hard work. That’s why we are successful.”
A player who was key to Rajasthan’s success was Aakash Chopra. With the former India opener moving to Himachal Pradesh, Kanitkar said the side will miss him. “His experience was invaluable. We will definitely miss him. However, his departure will mean that young players will get an opportunity to showcase their talent.”