Ranji Trophy: Bengal eyes season’s first win against in-form Kerala

Both the teams look confident as they gear up for an important group-league clash at the Eden Gardens.

Till a week ago, questions had been asked about Manoj Tiwary's captaincy, and even his place in the team wasn’t assured. He chose to dispel all doubts with his bat, scoring an unbeaten 201 against Madhya Pradesh.   -  CAB MEDIA

If there had been an air of vengeance in Manoj Tiwary’s tone as he spoke on the eve of Bengal’s Ranji Trophy match at the Eden Gardens against Kerala, he could have been pardoned. But there wasn’t.

Till a week ago, questions had been asked about his captaincy, and even his place in the team wasn’t assured. He chose to dispel all doubts with his bat. He scored an unbeaten 201 off 279 balls here to ensure that Bengal was in a commanding position against Madhya Pradesh.

That, however, was only good enough for the host to secure the first innings lead. The story was the same in the team’s opening fixture, against Himachal Pradesh at Nadaun. “We are looking at an outright victory against Kerala,” Tiwary told Sportstar.

About the kind of pressure he was under before last week’s game, he said it didn’t matter now. “I would rather look ahead to the match against Kerala,” he said. “And they are coming here, after posting an outright victory.”

That win, against Andhra, was fashioned by Jalaj Saxena, who scored a hundred opening the innings and then took eight second-innings wickets with his off-spin.

According to the BCCI's instruction, Mohammed Shami can only bowl for 15 overs in each innings . (File Photo)   -  AP

 

Pacers too may get help

With the pitch expected to offer something for the pacers too, the visiting side’s formidable new-ball duo of Sandeep Warrier and Basil Thampi could have an interesting spell or two. The team also must be hoping that the likes of Sanju Samson, Sachin Baby and Rohan Prem would spend quality time at the wicket.

There is a chance that they could face India’s Test bowler Mohammed Shami here. The BCCI has allowed him to play – with a rider that he should bowl only 15 overs per innings – but only on Tuesday morning could his participation be confirmed; he didn’t arrive for the team’s practice.

“It would be a good test for us if he plays,” said Kerala coach Dav Whatmore. Bengal’s other pacers Ashoke Dinda and Ishan Porel have both recovered from injuries, according to their captain.

As far as runs are concerned, the host may not have much to worry about, with the presence of men like Abhishek Raman, Koushik Ghosh and Sudip Chatterjee, apart from the skipper.

The teams (from)

Bengal: Manoj Tiwary (captain), Sudip Chatterjee, Ashok Dinda, Mohammad Shami, Anustup Majumdar, Shreevats Goswami, Abhishek Raman, Koushik Ghosh, Purab Joshi, Mukesh Kumar, Ishan Porel, Pradipta Pramanik, Aamir Gani, Vivek Singh, Writtick Chatterjee and Amit Kuila.

Kerala: Sachin Baby (captain), Sanju V. Samson, Rohan Prem, V.A. Jagadeesh, Salman Nizar, Arun Karthik, Jalaj Saxena, Vishnu Vinod, K.C. Akshay, Akshay Chandran, Sandeep Warrier, Basil Thampi, M.D. Nidheesh, P. Rahul, Vinod Kumar and Vinoop S. Manoharan.