The Telegraph
Thursday , January 16 , 2014
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Shukla is banking on pacers

Laxmi Ratan Shukla

Calcutta: Bengal’s superb victory in the Ranji Trophy quarter final over Railways was much aided by an Eden pitch which had enough help for the fast bowlers. In fact, in the season so far, it has been the pacers who have clinched those crucial moments for Bengal.

Led by Ashok Dinda, the Bengal pacers have taken more than 70 wickets this season. Dinda, alone, has 37 scalps to his name.

So captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla cannot be blamed if he wishes for a similar seamer-friendly wicket in the semi-final match against Maharashtra. However, this time the Eden is not the venue, it’s the Holkar Stadium in Indore.

The Indore pitch has produced a lot of runs this season, but Shukla is still hopeful that his pacers will reap wickets from it. “I hope that the pitch on offer would be similar to the ones at the Eden… I hope that the pacers will get more purchase out of the wicket. But then, it doesn’t mean that we will not be prepared if we get a flat wicket or a spinner-friendly track,” Shukla told The Telegraph, from Indore, on Wednesday afternoon.

The Bengal team reached Indore on Wednesday morning but didn’t visit the ground. They only had a session at the gym in the evening. So they will have to wait till Thursday’s practice session to have an idea about the pitch.

One of the salient features of this Bengal side has been the camaraderie between the players. Despite missing some of the key players like Manoj Tiwary and Mohammed Shami, Bengal haven’t crumbled in crunch situations.

Shukla is banking on this positive attitude. “We always had our plans in place… At times things might have gone awry, but in most cases, the boys have executed the plans. They never lost hope and have always shown the will to fight even when the chips were down,” said Shukla.