Bengal takes on Baroda in bowler-friendly Lahli

The Lahli pitch is expected to pose a greater challenge to Bengal than the bottom-placed Baroda with three points from five matches.

ashok dinda

Ashok Dinda, with 20 scalps, leads Bengal's wicket-takers' list.   -  PTI

On the eve of its Ranji Trophy match against Baroda in Lahli, Bengal can back itself to sink a team that has played far below its reputation.

The Lahli pitch has traditionally been a bowlers’ delight. Even a half-century by a batsman is counted among the noted performances of the season. Bengal would look to draw upon its batting strength, notably Abhimanyu Easwaran, Sudip Chatterjee and Sayan Mondal.

Bengal has remained an underachiever season after season despite possessing the talent to travel the distance. This could well be the season of reckoning for Manoj Tiwary and his boys as they look to corner glory. The Lahli pitch will challenge more than the bottom-placed opposition with three points from five matches.

Baroda ranks as the most consistent team in domestic cricket. In the absence of stars the team has often relied on a collective show but none have contributed substantially except Deepak Hooda, who has aggregated 690 runs with three centuries. Kedar Devdhar has shown signs of playing the big innings at the right time. The Pathan brothers, Yusuf and Irfan, are experiencing an embarrassingly disastrous run.

In sharp contrast, Bengal looks well prepared with the 21-year-old Easwaran, brought up diligently at his father's academy in Dehradun, living up to the promise he has exuded as a youngster. His batting has been the high point for Bengal, which has prospered by investing in youngsters like Agniv Pan and Amit Kuila.

Pan has shown signs of developing well. His aggregate of 225 in eight innings does not justify his form. Seamer Kuila has come good with the ball, claiming 14 wickets to raise hopes on the bowler-friendly pitch here. The presence of veteran Ashok Dinda is an inspiration for Bengal. His 20-wicket haul has been crucial to Bengal's four matches so far. It is placed fifth in the group behind Mumbai, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Punjab.