Ranji Trophy final: Can Ishan Porel make the old ball talk?

The seamers from Saurashtra and Bengal, who have impressed in the 2019-20 season, may have to work harder to do something special in Rajkot.

Ishan Porel after dismissing Karnataka batsman K. Gowtham in the semifinal.   -  PTI Photo

There is not enough grass on the pitch and the temperature here remains between 30 to 34 degrees during the day. Bengal batsman Anustup Majumdar feels there could be cracks by day three of the Ranji Trophy final.

The 35-year-old veteran, however, is confident that Bengal pacers Mukesh Kumar, Akash Deep and Ishan Porel — who have claimed 82 wickets in a pack in the season — will use their skills to shine. It is true; not every bowler waits for the conditions to assist him.

 

“Our bowlers bowled extremely well in the season. Till now, not many teams have touched 250 against us. We have a lot of faith in their skills and consistency. Our bowlers haven’t done anything extraordinary but they pitched the ball in the right areas, which is the key.

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“There will not be lateral movement here. The seam movement will happen off the wicket in these conditions. Seam movement will be a threat for the first 90 minutes on day one. The wicket may develop cracks later, which can help both the pacers and the spinners,” he told Sportstar ahead of the big final starting at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium from Monday.

It will ultimately boil down to game plan and strategy. Saurashtra’s strength lies in dot balls.

“It will be a batsman-friendly wicket. But our strength lies in bowling maiden overs, sticking to one line. That’s what we have been doing throughout the season. Chirag Jani and Prerak Mankad bowled extremely well in supporting roles to Jaydev Unadkat. Even Chetan Sakariya. He took two wickets in the semifinal which changed the course of the game. We don’t give too many loose balls,” warned Saurashtra assistant coach Niraj Odedra.

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Saurashtra will drop one batsman to include Cheteshwar Pujara and a spinner could be included after a final inspection of the wicket on Monday morning. “We may include a spinner if needed,” he added.

Challenge for Porel

Known as a prolific new ball bowler, the pressure will be on Ishan Porel to continue the stellar show in the dry Gujarat heat. “I want to see how well Porel can bowl with the old ball. That will be the key for Bengal. We want to create pressure on batsmen by bowling dot balls. In the process, we will cash in on the opportunities,” said Odedra.

Saurashtra bowlers will have home advantage, plus Unadkat averages 17.63 in Rajkot. He has grown up bowling on these dead wickets.