Bengal captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla is all set to become the first player from the State to appear in his 100th Ranji Trophy match when he leads the side against Services in a Group B encounter at the Palam ground on Thursday.
However, Shukla, at 32, knows his priorities well. “It is more important that we play well as a team and win this match,” said Shukla, who had played a crucial knock of 155 in the last match against Saurashtra, on Wednesday.
Bengal has gathered eight points from four matches and is keen to gain the maximum from this engagement. “Services is a good side and took three points from Madhya Pradesh. But it is not a top-notch team, so we will try to get six points,” said coach Ashok Malhotra.
Opener Arindam Das, Rohan Banerjee, Anustup Majumdar and Subhomoy Das hold the key in batting, while seamers Ashoke Dinda, seasoned S.S. Paul, Sourav Sarkar and spinners Saurasish Lahiri and Iresh Saxena share the responsibility in the bowling department.
The team was not too sure whether to field two spinners on this “low and slow” track.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha, who had been selected for the Test series in South Africa, was not sure whether he would turn up for Bengal on Thursday.
Services had little to share before the battle. Captain Soumik Chatterjee looked forward to his team’s last match at home. Prolific scorer Yashpal Singh, who celebrated his 32nd birthday on Wednesday, and Rajat Paliwal would be the mainstay of the Services batting, while pacer Suraj Yadav and rookie off-spinner Koteswar Rao would be the prominent bowlers.
The teams (from):
Services: Soumik Chatterjee (captain), Pratik Desai, Irfan Khan, Koteswar Rao, Nishan Singh, Soumyaranjan Swain, Nakul Verma, Yashpal Singh, Rajat Paliwal (vice-captain), Anshul Gupta, Rahul Kanojia, Shadab Nazar, Sarabjit Singh (wk), Vishnu Tiwari, Suraj Yadav.
Bengal: Laxmi Ratan Shukla (captain), Arindam Das, Rohan Banerjee, Subhomoy Das, Wriddhiman Saha, Anustup Majumdar, Sourav Sarkar, Sandipan Das, Saurasish Lahiri, Iresh Saxena, Ashoke Dinda, S.S. Paul.