SPORT

Bengal takes on Saurashtra

G. Viswanath

Vadodara: The faithful at the Moti Bagh Palace ground await a true contest on Thursday when Saurashtra locks horns with Bengal in the quarterfinals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy.

So far it has been a one-sided contest with seasoned campaigners in Sagar Jogiyani and Sitanshu Kotak enjoying a good outing against Uttar Pradesh and batsmen Rahul Dravid and Ganesh Satish making short work of Haryana.

Aided by the surface, the new ball operators have had a major share of success in the first hour of the morning.

Clear trend

A clear trend has been established in the two matches and reiterated a view that the fresh wicket here makes it a pleasurable exercise for the bowlers to use the seam adroitly.

In this context Bengal has an efficient opening pair in Ranadeb Bose and Ashok Dinda whereas Saurashtra brings a different dimension with two left-arm seamers in Jobanputra and Unadkat.

As a team, Saurashtra has surpassed itself in the recent past and even won the title beating Bengal in the final of the 2007-08 season at Visakhapatnam.

Saurashtra is used to leaning heavily on Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja (on duty for India in the ODI series against South Africa) and of late on the swashbuckling opener Chirag Pathak. But a cracking unbeaten century by Jogiyani against Uttar Pradesh ought to raise the confidence levels of the team that finished on top in the West Zone league.

Bengal had lost to Tamil Nadu at Agartala last year. Since then a handful of its players have played for India — Wriddhiman Saha who got a break in the second Test against South Africa and medium-pacer Ashok Dinda, who turned out in a T20 International against Sri Lanka.

Bright prospect

Another bright prospect in the Bengal team is Shreevats Goswami, the team's highest run-getter in the East Zone league with 293 runs with two centuries and an average of 97.66.

Manoj Tiwary, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala and Laxmi Ratan Shukla bring in the experience quotient and with Sourav Ganguly expected to join the team, Bengal would have the wherewithal to put it across Saurashtra and merit a clash with Karnataka in the semifinals.

The teams (from):

Saurashtra: Jaydev Shah (capt.), Chirag Pathak, Sagar Jogiyani, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sitanshu Kotak, Pratik Mehta, Rakesh Dhruv, Sandeep Jobanputra, Jaydev Unadkat, Jayesh Odedara, Kamlesh Makwana, Balkrishna Jadeja, Sandip Maniar, Vishal Joshi and Sheldon Jackson.

Bengal: Laxmi Ratan Shukla (capt.), Manoj Tiwary, Sourav Ganguly, Wriddhiman Saha, Arindham Das, Shreevats Goswami, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala, Sourasish Lahiri, Ashok Dinda, Ranadeb Bose, Arnab Nandi, Sudip Chatterjee, Soumya Pakre, Sourav Sarkar, Mohd. Sami Ahmed and Anustup Mujumdar

Umpires: S. Asnani and N. Patwardhan .

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