The Telegraph
Thursday , February 27 , 2014
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Shukla confident ahead of opener

Manoj Tiwary

Calcutta: Sourav Ganguly has already swung into action to help prepare plans for steadying the future of Bengal cricket.

The likes of Laxmi Ratan Shula, Manoj Tiwary, Wriddhiman Saha and Ashok Dinda have served Bengal with utmost dedication and distinction. But what next?

One will get an idea of what the future holds for Bengal cricket when they take the field on Thursday, in their opening match of the 2013-14 Vijay Hazare Trophy zonal round, against Odisha, in Ranchi.

The team led by Shukla has a nice balance of experience and youth. As usual, much will be expected from the senior pros. But more importantly, all eyes will be on the youth brigade to see if they are really ready for the grind.

As of Wednesday, captain Shukla didn’t decide on the final XI as he wants another look at the pitch on Thursday morning.

One reason for Shukla opting to take a late call on team composition is because of the hint of green on the JSCA Oval Ground pitch. The captain isn’t sure whether there will be further mowing or not and so, he hasn’t decided on the bowling attack.

“There was grass on the pitch when we practised on Wednesday… I’m not sure whether it will be cut… Depending on that, we will choose our bowling attack. If the grass stays, it is likely that we will go in with three seamers and one specialist spinner,” Shukla told The Telegraph, from Ranchi.

Veer Pratap Singh is almost certain to be Dinda’s new ball partner. The third pacer’s slot may be filled up by either Pritam Chakraborty or Vivek Singh. Sourashish Lahiri is the obvious choice as the specialist spinner.

Shukla confirmed that Wriddhiman Saha and Sreevats Goswami would open the batting, with Sudip Chatterjee coming in at three. Comeback man Manoj will bat at No. 4. Beyond that, the order is flexible. Shukla and Debabrata Das or Sayan Sekhar Mondal are likely to be the No.5 and No.6 batsmen, respectively.

All-rounder Boddupalli Amit has a bright chance of making his Bengal debut on Thursday.

“Odisha have a very good team… Last year, we snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against them. I had taken 5 wickets in that match. But we are confident,” Shukla said.