Abhimanyu Easwaran’s return will be a big boost for Bengal in its Ranji Trophy Group-A match against Nagaland, starting at the Nagaland Cricket Association Stadium here on Tuesday.
Abhimanyu, who was on India duty and missed the first two Ranji matches, rushed from Dhaka to join Bengal’s practice session here on Monday morning. With his team eyeing to grab maximum points against a comparatively weaker host, the prolific opener, who performed well while leading India-A in Bangladesh, may play an important role.
Bengal, looking forward to carrying on its positive momentum after securing seven points from an outright win over Uttar Pradesh and first innings lead against Himachal Pradesh. Bengal will continue to be led by the seasoned Manoj Tiwary, who was initially asked to captain the side due to Abhimanyu’s unavailability.
With some of its main batters, including centurions Anustup Majumdar and Sudip Gharami, Tiwary and Shahbaz Ahmed, getting runs, one can expect the tourists to crush the opposition under a mountain of runs.
Bengal’s pacers, led by Ishan Porel and Akash Deep, have done well and should pose some serious questions for the Nagaland batters.
The spin department may get bolstered with the addition of left-arm spinner Pradipta Pramanik.
“If we win the toss, we will bat. The pitch may assist the spinners on third and fourth days,” said Bengal coach Laxmi Ratan Shukla.
Nagaland, having lost its first two matches to Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh at home is realistic in its approach and has built its game plan accordingly for its last home outing.
“We don’t have big targets in mind. We have smaller targets, such as playing a session or two well, and we will try to achieve that,” said Nagaland coach R.X. Muralidhar.
Monday’s rain and the forecast of more showers on Tuesday may have an impact on team selection and the outcome of the match.
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