Bengal is facing a make-or-break situation in its penultimate Ranji Trophy league match of the Elite group ‘B' against Delhi beginning at the Eden Gardens here on Tuesday. Languishing at the bottom of the table with five points, Bengal needs to win the game outright to survive the drop.
For Delhi, this game will also be very crucial in its quest to make it to the knockout phase. Playing its final league match of the season, Delhi, on 10 points from five games, will go for an outright victory that will help its cause immensely.
As things stand on the eve of the match, the pressure to perform is more on the host. The only good news for Bengal is the return of in-form middle-order batsman Manoj Tiwary to the playing XI.
“Manoj brings into the team the confidence of having scored runs, both in domestic as well as in international games. We have to go all out and stop the relegation,” opined skipper Sourav Ganguly. The stylish left-hander looks set to bowl in the game, for he had a long stint at the nets this morning.
Delhi's victory against Baroda and its loss to Madhya Pradesh, in a way, has given Bengal some hope of doing well. The Bengal camp feels inconsistency shown by Delhi is going to help its cause.
“Delhi will not have the services three India players, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir. We have to take advantage of their absence,” the Bengal captain felt.
But it will not be that easy as Delhi is known for its fighting quality, especially under trying circumstances. It has some good batsmen in Shikhar Dhawan, under-19 captain Unmukt Chand, captain Mithun Manhas and all-rounder Yougesh Nagar. Ashish Nehra did not reach here with the team. He is expected at arrive by tonight.
In case he fails to make it for whatever reason, Kuldeep Rawat is likely to be his replacement. Left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra, who is suffering from abdominal pain owing to gall bladder stone, bowled at the nets and is likely to take the field considering the importance of the game.
Bengal is set to make two changes — Subhamoy Das in place of an injured Rohan Banerjee and Tiwary in place of Abhishek Jhunjhunwala. Swing bowler Sourav Sarkar might get a look in, if the situation demands, instead of Bose, who is not only short on confidence but has proved ineffective so far.
Under Ganguly, the team conceded first innings lead to Haryana and was beaten by TN by 10 wickets. The pitch does not sport as much grass as it had against TN, but it is expected to help the seamers early on.
The teams (from): Bengal: Arindam Das, Shreevats Goswami (wk), Writam Porel, Manoj Tiwary, Sourav Ganguly (Capt.), Subhamoy Das, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Iresh Saxena, Shami Ahmed, Ashok Dinda, Ranadeb Bose, Anustup Majumdar, Arnab Nandi, Sourav Sarkar and Veer Pratap Singh.
Delhi: Shikhar Dhawan, Unmukt Chand, Anshul Julka, Mithun Manhas (Capt.), Rajat Bhatia, Yogesh Nagar, Punit Bisht (wk), Ashish Nehra, Parvinder Awana, Vikas Mishra, Pradeep Sangwan, Kuldeep Rawat, Manoj Chauhan, Pawan Negi and Mayank Tehlan.
Umpires: Amish Sahiba (Guj) and Ravi Subramanian (Kar). Match Referee: Col. Chinmaya Sharma (Ser).
Keywords: Ranji Trophy