The Telegraph
Sunday , March 16 , 2014

Bengal on a pitch of discomfort

Calcutta: If the captain and the vice-captain are not on the same page, not everything is right within the team. That seems to be the case in the Bengal camp as well.

Just a day after suffering a crushing defeat at the hands of Railways, in the Vijay Hazare Trophy semis, a storm seems to be brewing in the Bengal camp with vice-captain Ashok Dinda revealing that he didn’t like captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla and coach Ashok Malhotra’s idea of changing the nature of the Eden pitch. The 22-yard strip used for Friday’s game went from being greenish to grass-less on the eve of the match.

Dinda, on Saturday, minced no words in expressing his disappointment. “It was the decision of the coach and the captain to play the game on a flat wicket… We weren’t told anything about it in advance. Given a choice, I would have liked to play on the pitch where we beat Tamil Nadu, because we have a strong pace attack. Pace bowling is our strength,” the pacer remarked.

When reminded that he is the vice-captain and so he too is a part of the team management, Dinda replied: “I’m the vice-captain only when on the field… That’s it…”

Captain Shukla reacted strongly to Dinda’s comments. “Everyone’s part of the team management, not just the captain and the coach. We didn’t have it in us to beat Railways, that’s why we lost the game… It’s as simple as that…

“I just wanted that no team should have any undue advantage in a semi-final game. I didn’t want to cheat. I didn’t want the team to rely on the pitch, the toss or the conditions. Railways played better cricket than us and won. If we can’t bat on green-tops or on flat decks, it’s our problem. We should first learn to pull ourselves back from the hole.

“As far as I’m concerned, I can’t digest this loss so easily. Besides, in the past, there have been players who went out to party the same night that their team lost a match, scoring just 180-odd runs,” Shukla fumed.

The captain, however, is hopeful of a better show next season with guidance from Waqar Younis and Muttiah Muralidharan, part of the CAB initiative ‘Vision 2020’.