Bengal and Odisha will provide the right challenge to National champion Jharkhand in the East Zone leg of the Vijay Hazare Trophy beginning on Monday with two matches.

Led by former India captain, Sourav Ganguly, Bengal will be looking to make it to the National final after its qualification in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Jharkhand, skippered by Saurabh Tiwary, would like to stamp its class and make it to the all-India meet too.

Apart from Odisha, Assam too has done well in the one-day tournament in the past.

“We have always done well in this format of the game. This time also there will be no extra pressure,'' said Bengal coach W.V. Raman.

Odisha, relegated to the plate division in the longer version of the game, has a very young side captained by Biplab Samantaray.

The team is not a push over in the shorter version.

“It is a different format and the boys are raring to go,'' said Odisha coach Debasis Mohanty, who in his first year as coach took East Zone to a Duleep Trophy triumph. “Bengal is a strong side. We are expecting a tough match.''

Assam will be without its strike bowler Abu Nechim Ahmed.

The team has a number of bits and pieces players who can make an impact individually or collectively for the side.

Jharkhand will play its first match against Tripura. The team coach Tarit Ghosh said, “our strength is team work. It was the collective effort that helped us win last year.''

The fixture:

February 20: Bengal vs. Odisha (Eden), Assam vs. Tripura (JU); February 22: Assam vs. Odisha (Eden), Jharkhand vs. Tripura (JU); February 24: Bengal vs. Jharkhand (Eden), Odisha vs. Tripura (JU); February 26: Assam vs. Jharkhand (Eden), Bengal vs. Tripura (JU); February 29: Assam vs. Bengal (Eden), Jharkhand vs Odisha (JU).

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