Shami is playing, says Bahutule

But the Bengal coach says the team will decide the combination after having a look at the wicket on the match day morning; the presence of India stars, which also includes Wriddhiman Saha, is a plus.

After a brush with injuries since the World Cup in 2015, Mohammed Shami is now a regular member of the Indian cricket team. He last donned the whites against Sri Lanka in August followed by an ODI against Australia in September.   -  K. Pichumani

India speedster Mohammed Shami and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha’s return to the Bengal side have lifted its spirits ahead of the Ranji Trophy opener against Services in New Delhi on Friday.

“Shami is playing,” Bengal coach Sairaj Bahutule told Sportstar, adding: “The wicket is on the greener side and we will take a final call on the team combination after having a look at the wicket tomorrow morning.”

After a brush with injuries since the World Cup in 2015 (where he picked up 17 wickets in eight outings), the 27-year-old is now a regular member of the Indian cricket team. He last donned the whites against Sri Lanka in August followed by an ODI against Australia in September.

READ: Mukund bullish of a good Ranji season for Tamil Nadu

Shami reported to Bahutule after being released from the India T20 squad; for the series against Australia later this week.

“Not only Shami, but Saha’s presence is also a boost for the boys. Both of them have played enough international cricket and have been successful too. On top of that, these guys have played together before. So, the team is more than happy to welcome them back. The environment is positive and the team is spirited,” informed Bahutule.

The preparatory camps and Duleep Trophy assignments have sharpened a few Bengal players as well. “The boys have been working extremely hard for the season. There are players like Manoj (Tiwary), the skipper, who played the Duleep Trophy and Sudeep Chatterjee, who played India A,” he added.

The Bengal team played a few warm-up matches in Surat last month. “There have been a lot of competitive games for the players. In Surat, we tried to season the boys and see how much cricket we could play, which we did,” reasoned Bahutule.

After the controversy surrounding Pragyan Ojha’s release, the entry of Shami and Saha must be refreshing for the Bengal think tank.