Ranji Trophy: Madhya Pradesh, Bengal face off in a must-win game

Madhya Pradesh is at the fourth spot with 19 points, while Bengal is at sixth with 18. Despite an outright result, the teams depend on the outcome of Gujarat versus Tamil Nadu.

ashok dinda

Bengal faltered in its last match against Mumbai despite Ashok Dinda's nine-wicket haul. The team will expect a similar performance from its veteran pacer.   -  PTI

A quarterfinal berth looks tough for Bengal and Madhya Pradesh as they face off in their last Group A encounter at the scenic Palam A Ground here on Wednesday.

Madhya Pradesh is at the fourth spot with 19 points, while Bengal is at sixth with 18. Despite an outright result, the teams depend on the outcome of Gujarat versus Tamil Nadu, which are on 25 and 23 points, respectively.

Bengal started the season on a high, taking the first innings lead against Uttar Pradesh and winning against Punjab and Railways. The match against Gujarat here was abandoned due to smog and Bengal’s below par performance began from that point. It conceded first innings lead to Tamil Nadu before losing to Baroda and conceding a lead to Mumbai.

The senior tournament committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which met in Mumbai on Tuesday, revoked the decision of rescheduling the matches -- Bengal versus Gujarat and Hyderabad versus Tripura -- that were called off due to smog last month. All four teams got a point each.

Now, another engagement in foggy weather here may pose hurdles for both sides in their last-ditch efforts to make the the last eight.

"I am disappointed with the decision to treat the match against Gujarat as abandoned," said Bengal coach Sairaj Bahutule, "It is disappointing to learn at this juncture that we don't get to play that match because we are so intensely involved in the race to qualify."

"I respect the BCCI for its decision. It makes things tough for us. All along we know we had a game in hand but now we know that we are playing our last league match,” he said.

"Those two days in Delhi (when smog affected the city) were so hard. I don't know who messed up the situation by calling it off but the team is hugely disappointed. They could have dealt with it in a better manner. But we have to accept things as they are and try and take the positives. It has left the players disappointed because they had toiled to make the qualifying round."

Bengal will depend on its prominent run-getters -- captain Manoj Tiwary and Sudip Chatterjee -- and chief wicket-taker Ashok Dinda to come good again.

Madhya Pradesh drew some confidence from its outright victory over Baroda in the last round.

Captain Devendra Bundela, Harpreet Singh and Shubham Sharma have contributed handsomely with the bat, while speedsters Ishwar Pandey and Chandrakant Sakure have done well.

The teams:

Bengal: Manoj Tiwary (captain), Pragyan Ojha, Ashok Dinda, Sayan Sekhar Mondal, Sudip Chatterjee, Abhimanyu Easwaran, Pankaj Shaw, Shreevats Goswami, Aamir Gani, Amit Kuila, Sayan Ghosh, Writtick Chatterjee, Mukesh Kumar, Abhishek Raman, Prasenjit Das.

Madhya Pradesh: Devendra Bundela (captain), Naman Ojha, Harpreet Singh, Rajat Patidar, Shubham Sharma, Ankit Sharma, Mukul Raghav, Aditya Srivastava, Rameez Khan, Ankit Dane, Mihir Hirwani, Ishwar Pandey, Chandrakant Sakure, Saransh Jain, Palash Kochar and Puneet Datey.