Ranji Trophy 2023/24: Bengal’s new title hunt begins with Andhra test

Falling at the final hurdle last season, Bengal will begin its new title hunt against a well-rounded Andhra in Visakhapatnam.

Published : Jan 04, 2024 19:16 IST , VISAKHAPATNAM - 2 MINS READ

FILE PHOTO: Bengal batsman Manoj Tiwari in action against Madhya Pradesh during Ranji Trophy 2022.
FILE PHOTO: Bengal batsman Manoj Tiwari in action against Madhya Pradesh during Ranji Trophy 2022. | Photo Credit: MURALI KUMAR K
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FILE PHOTO: Bengal batsman Manoj Tiwari in action against Madhya Pradesh during Ranji Trophy 2022. | Photo Credit: MURALI KUMAR K

Bengal and Andhra embark on their new 10-week First-Class journey when they face each other in the opening match of the Ranji Trophy season here at the Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium here on Friday.

Both, Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary and his Andhra counterpart Hanuma Vihari had different plans when the previous season ended. Tiwary announced his retirement and Vihari showed interest in moving to Madhya Pradesh.

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However, as things panned out, both eventually reversed their decisions and will walk out for the toss, leading their teams in hope of another shot at the elusive silverware, which Bengal last won in 1989-90 and Andhra is yet to get its hands on.

Bengal, and Tiwary, were one win away from clinching the title last year and fell short in the final against Saurashtra. With a similar core, and more experience, the team would hope to begin its journey on a high.

Despite Andhra’s lack of top four finishes in the tournament in the past, it boasts of a well-rounded attack in all three departments with a blend of youth and experience.

The fact that the VDCA ground hasn’t hosted a First-Class match in more than four years, the last being India-South Africa Test in October 2019, adds a layer to the contest. as the teams might take time to familiarise with somewhat unknown conditions.

Andhra will bank on the experience of Vihari, Ashwin Hebber, and Ricky Bhui in the middle order whereas Bengal’s batting would revolve around Sudip Gharami, Anustup Majumdar, and Tiwary.

The breeze around the ground will keep the bowlers interested in any movement on offer especially in the evening session. While Akash Deep and Ishan Porel will lead Bengal’s campaign with the ball, it’ll be Mohammed Kaif, coming off a satisfactory Vijay Hazare Trophy, who could spring a surprise.

But Bengal batters will be vary of the Andhra attack that includes K.V. Sasikanth, Lalith Mohan, Nitish Reddy, and Shaoib Khan. Even if the pitch provides easy scoring, as it has in limited overs, this quartet won’t simply give runs away.

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