Ranji Trophy: Resurgent Bengal up against struggling Andhra

Bengal will look to build momentum to qualify for the knockouts, while host Andhra will depend to batsman Ricky Bhui in the absence of Hanuma Vihari.

Bengal skipper Manoj Tiwary will once again be key alongside in-form opener Abhishek Raman.   -  PTI

Bengal is determined to grab maximum points and gather some more momentum against the bottom-placed Andhra in its Ranji Trophy Group B match, at the YSR ACA Cricket Stadium here on Saturday, before its last two engagements at home.

At present, Bengal – which collected nine points from its victory over Tamil Nadu and first innings lead against Hyderabad in away matches – is fourth with 15 points and will need some favourable results in its final few matches to stay in contention for a berth in the knockouts.

Bengal has not been able to perform up to its potential due to the inconsistent showing of its batsmen. Only three batsmen, captain Manoj Tiwary, Abhishek Raman and Abhimanyu Easwaran, have contributed significantly, while others have done well in patches.

Read: Lacklusture TN runs into an in-form Himachal

Reliable opener Abhimanyu's absence – who is on tour of New Zealand with the India 'A' side – in two matches was a setback for the side that suffered a loss to Kerala at the Eden Gardens.

The team will be keen to see some of its other prominent batsmen, including Sudip Chatterjee, strike form. “This is the right time to peak and these are responsible boys,” said Bengal coach Sairaj Bahutule.

According to Bahutule, the Bengal bowlers, especially seamers such as Ashoke Dinda and Ishan Porel, have done well despite getting flat pitches. “Here, the track looks good for batting. We have to create the opportunities,” said Bahutule.

Ricky Bhui was one of the best performers with the bat this season for Andhra.   -  R V Moorthy

 

For Andhra, which has only five points, it's a do-or-die situation from now on. Three wins will keep it on course for a spot in the quarterfinals.

The home batting is too dependent on Ricky Bhui, who has contributed handsomely so far. It has been troubled by Hanuma Vihari's absence. Karn Sharma, another experienced performer, is out owing to an injury.

However, captain B. Sumanth has a reason to nurture hope. “We played our first match here and did well to get three points. After that we are returning here for this match. We have some talented youngsters, who can make a difference,” said Sumanth.

 

The teams

Andhra

B. Sumanth (C), Ricky Bhui, D.B. Prasanth Kumar, K.S. Bharath (WK), N.J. Sai Krishna, C.R. Gnaneshwar, G. Manish B. Ayyappa, Mohammed Shoaib Khan, P. Girinath Reddy, C.V. Stephen, K.V. Sashikanth, D.P. Vijaykumar, I. Karthik Raman, B. Shiva Charan Singh and Y.P. Raj.

Bengal

Manoj Tiwary (C), Sudip Chatterjee, Ashoke Dinda, Anustup Majumdar, Shreevats Goswami (WK), Abhishek Raman, Koushik Ghosh, Abhimanyu Easwaran, Mukesh Kumar, Ishan Porel, Pradipta Pramanik, Aamir Gani, Kanishk Seth, Writtick Chatterjee, Shahbaz Ahmed and Agniv Pan.