It was so near yet so far for Bengal, which made it to the Ranji Trophy final after 13 years.
Following its loss to Saurashtra in the final on the basis of first innings lead at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Bengal coach Arun Lal looked at the positives and called for improvements.
“This should strengthen our resolve that we are not going to let it go next year. Since we have come this far, we now know that we are as good as any other side in the country, if not better,” said Lal.
The positive influence of Lal on the squad was discernible as one could hear a loud round of applause from the Bengal dressing room despite its defeat in the final on Friday. This was unusual in Bengal cricket.
“Everybody should realise how good we are, what fabulous cricket we have played. They have made us proud. We don’t focus on results.
“We needed to win each other’s hearts and we have done that. Next year we will win the trophy as well.
“They are fond of each other. It was a great atmosphere. Lovely to see how happy they are. Even the guy who was dropped is not sulking,” said Lal, taking pride in the team bonding.
Even though Lal was not sure about continuing as Bengal coach, he said the team must work on several areas. “There are lots of areas to improve. We have to be consistent.”
Lal pointed out some areas that the team needed to focus on. “We could not get the tail out in any match, not just in the final. We have to work on that.
“The bowling unit has to go a long way. It has superb potential. We need to work on yorkers and variations. Someone like Shahbaz Ahmed has to work on his bowling. Ishan Porel needs to improve his batting to increase depth.
“The players have to make a promise to the team that they will get better.
“Now you know what is required at the highest level and you need to work harder,” Lal, the hard taskmaster, said.