Special Correspondent

Bengal will miss Deep Dasgupta

Hyderabad will be banking on Laxman

KOLKATA: Bengal will like to begin well in the Ranji Trophy Super League against Hyderabad in the four-day match beginning at the Eden Gardens here on Sunday.

In a battle between two teams, which lost considerable talent to the ICL, the opening match will be rather crucial considering that the teams have to field a fairly new-look side. Bengal has to include just one rookie as against six by Hyderabad in the squad.

At this juncture, the best thing to happen for Hyderabad is the availability of classy V.V.S. Laxman to lead the team that looks very short on experience. Laxman, having to begin the season at his favourite hunting ground, will be looking to get into form ahead of the Test series against Pakistan.

“The team is well prepared after a three-week conditioning camp. We will like to see how the team does in a match,” he said after the team’s practice session. He said all those new-comers are from the group of under-22. “The boys know how to win and as a senior player I will certainly guide the youngsters as much as I can,” he said. Of course Laxman can expect good support from Arjun Yadav, Daniel Manohar and Pragyan Ojha to name a few.

Bengal will miss Deep Dasgupta and coach Paras Mhambrey, the two who have guided the team’s fortunes the past two years. Bharath Arun has replaced Mhambrey and veteran Laxmi Ratan Shukla has stepped in for Dasgupta to guide the side this season.

Bengal will be playing five of the six matches at home this season.

The only away game will be the next one against Baroda. Shukla will get ample support from Manoj Tiwary and last year’s most successful bowler Ranadeb Bose.

With Sahib Shankar Paul getting over the knee injury that sidelined him for most part of last year, the burly pacer will come with renewed vigour at the opposition.

Wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, good behind the wicket and with the bat, will make his debut. The biggest problem for Bengal will be lack of practice owing to prolonged monsoon.

The team did go out to play matches in Bangalore and Hyderabad. Laxman felt the pitch was slightly under-prepared and will have enough spin options to decide.

Bengal has just two frontline spinners in Sourasish Lahiri and left-armer Murtaza Lodhgar. Arun and Laxman said they would prefer to wait till the morning to decide the playing XI.

The teams (from): Bengal: L.R. Shukla (capt.), W. Saha (wk), A. Das, A. Chakraborty, M. Tiwary, A. Majumdar, S. Ahmed, K.H. Mondal, S. Lahiri, S.S. Paul, R. Bose, A. Dinda, S. Sarkar and M. Lodhgar.

Hyderabad: V.V.S. Laxman (cap), H. Ahmed (wk), A. Yadav, D. Manohar, R. Teja, A. Pai, A. Shinde, P. Ojha, P. Arjun, S.M. Shoaib, Ashwin Yadav, A. Lalith Mohan, V. Sharma, Md. A. Shakeer and D.D. Prince.

Umpires: S.K. Tarapore and V.D. Nerurkar. Referee: Dr. Pratap Desai.

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