Like the last few seasons, there were concerns and controversies that threatened to derail Bengal’s Ranji Trophy campaign.
But this time Bengal are determined to focus on the job, deliver on the field and not be distracted by off-the-field issues. That approach has paid off as the Abhimanyu Easwaran-led side, mentored by Arun Lal, has qualified for the final. It’s quite a thing as Bengal have made it to the summit clash after a long gap of 13 years. They haven’t won the title for an even longer period — 30 years.
Bengal are confident of upstaging Saurashtra in their den — the SCA Stadium.
“We played spectacular cricket to overcome difficult situations. It’s about doing what you do best with consistency and that’s what I call aggression,” head coach Lal told The Telegraph on the eve of the decider.
“Aggression does not mean in-your-face stuff. It’s about being quietly confident.
“We don’t focus on results, which is not in our hands. Rather, we must be satisfied that we have been able to play to our potential,” Lal emphasised.
Bengal’s pace trio – Mukesh Kumar, Ishan Porel and Akash Deep – has shown that they do have the capacity to humble bigger names.
The SCA Stadium pitch appears to be batsmen-friendly, but the Saurashtra batsmen cannot afford to relax, given the form the Bengal quicks are in.
Saurashtra have been strengthened by the inclusion of Cheteshwar Pujara. He has tons of patience and will surely test the Bengal bowlers.
Bengal are ready though. “We don’t give undue importance to any individual. We play to our strength and plan accordingly. We will look to do that,” Lal explained.
All set to be back in the XI in place of Sreevats Goswami, Wriddhiman Saha may bat at No. 5. But Saha’s lack of match practice is a concern for the Bengal camp. “His presence lends substance to the team. Only thing is, he hasn’t had enough match practice since returning from injury,” Lal pointed out.
Bit of history
The final could be young Sudip Gharami’s debut first-class game. Gharami, impressive for the Bengal U-23 side, could replace struggling opener Abhishek Raman.
“What I see of him at nets tells me that he is a very fine prospect for Bengal.
“Should he make his debut, I think he will do well. You know what, years back another youngster had made his Bengal debut in a Ranji Trophy final that we won. That person went on to scale many a peak in the world of cricket. Who knows, something similar may happen to Gharami,” Lal pointed out.
Who was that youngster? None other than former India captain and current BCCI president Sourav Ganguly!