Gujarat v Bengal: Good battle in the offing

Gujarat, boosted by the return of Jaspreet Bumrah and Axar Patel, has reasons to feel upbeat. Bengal, on the other hand, will feel the absence of wicketkeeper batsman Wriddhiman Saha, back on National duty.

Gujarat is all geared up for its Ranji Trophy clash against Bengal after the return of talented all rounder, Axar Patel.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

If there was a clash needed to decide the Group ‘A’ leaders, it comes up from Saturday when Bengal and Gujarat face-off at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground here. Armed with 15 points from three outings, these teams will be looking for their third victory of the Ranji Trophy season over the next four days.

Gujarat, boosted by the return of Jaspreet Bumrah and Axar Patel, has reasons to feel upbeat. It was important for the team to have a better attack against Bengal, that bats deep. Bengal, on the other hand, will feel the absence of wicketkeeper batsman Wriddhiman Saha, back on National duty.

On the eve of the match, the teams remembered the match played here last week that saw Baroda score 529 and Punjab respond with 670! “But I think, we will get a better pitch that won’t be so much in favour of the batsmen,” said Bengal coach Sairaj Bahutule.

He continued: “We are aware that Bumrah and Axar are part of the Gujarat squad. But we will focus on our strength and take it session by session. So far, our fast bowlers have done the job. Here, I expect the spinners, too, to come into play. Our batsmen have done well in the opportunities they’ve got and the wickets they played on.”

Skipper Manoj Tiwary thought that on the “slow and low” track at the Kotla, Amit Kuila could be replaced by left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, now fully fit and raring to go.

Bumrah, pleased to back for the Gujarat’s Ranji Trophy campaign, said he was looking forward to the challenge. “It is always nice to be playing Ranji Trophy. I think, it is easier to return to four-day cricket from one-dayers than vice versa.

The match promises to be a good battle featuring some very seasoned pace bowlers in both camps. R. P. Singh, the former UP bowler now turning out for Gujarat, and Bumrah could present a stiff challenge to the in-form Bengal top-order.

Similarly, the Bengal pace attack involving Ashok Dinda, Sayan Ghosh and/or Amit Kuila could seriously test Parthiv Patel and his boys. However, much depends on the surface prepared for the match. With both teams having the bowling resources, a good battle is in the offing.

The teams:

Bengal: Manoj Tiwary (captain) Abhimanyu Easwaran, Sayan Mondal, Sudip Chatterjee, Agniv Pan, Pankaj Shaw, Pragyan Ojha, Shreevats Goswami, Ayan Bhattacharya, Ashok Dinda, Amit Kuila, Writtick Chatterjee, Aamir Gani, Ishan Porel and Prosenjit Das.

Gujarat: Parthiv Patel (captain), Manpreet Juneja, Dhruv Rawal, Priyank Panchal, Ishwar Choudhary, Samit Goel, Axar Patel, Chirag Gandhi, Chintan Gaga, Bhargav Merai, Jaspreet Bumrah, Karan Patel, Hardik Patel, Rush Kaleria and R. P. Singh.