Ranji Trophy 2018-19: Bengal faces Madhya Pradesh, eyes first win

Bengal’s batsmen would be keen on converting their starts into big scores at the Eden Gardens.

The ball is expected to seam around in the morning at the Eden Gardens.   -  G. P. Sampath Kumar

Bengal will hope to make the most of its home conditions when it hosts Madhya Pradesh (MP) in a Group ‘B’ Ranji Trophy contest here on Monday. Both teams claimed three points from their opening drawn contests via first-innings leads.

Converting the starts gained by batsmen would be key for Bengal, according to Arun Lal, the team’s mentor. “Fifties and 60s don’t really help, you have let the team down and the element of struggle remains. You have given it away after doing 90 per cent hard work,” Lal said to his team.

The lack of big scores despite the starts plagued the side in the opening contest. Openers Abhishek Raman (48 and 87) and Abhimanyu Easwaran (21 and 76) looked in fine form against Himachal but got out before they could read a hundred. Against MP, the team would want its openers to provide a safe start in what is expected to be a testing opening hour at the green-top at Eden Gardens.

“The ball seams in morning session. For batsmen, if we survive till drinks, [we would] get value for [our] shots. There are pros and cons,” Manoj Tiwary, the captain, said ahead of the contest. “I’m thinking about scoring a big one, but it’s not in my hands. I’m happy with the batting but I need to focus more when I cross 50-60. I will try my best,” Tiwary, who had been dismissed for 55 in the contest against MP, added.

Debut likely for Vivek Singh

Twenty-five year old batsman Vivek Singh, who scored two half-centuries in the Vijay Hazare Trophy — at a strike-rate of 105.64 — is likely to make his Ranji Trophy debut for Bengal. The left-handed wicketkeeper-batsman can also play as a right-arm medium pacer, but Tiwary specified Vivek was included in the squad to “keep wickets.”

Read: Nitish Rana hopeful of winning start to Delhi captaincy debut

“He will keep wickets if he plays. But if he does not play Shreevats Goswami will keep wickets,” Tiwary said. Goswami, the first-choice wicketkeeper, is in the middle of a lean patch with the bat; he had scored 10 against Himachal last week, and had scored only 69 runs from four matches in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.

All in the past

Madhya Pradesh will hope No. 3 Rajat Patidar conjures another big score after his career-best 196 against Tamil Nadu. Talking about the upcoming contest, Patidar said, “It’s all past. I’m trying to be in the present. The first session will be crucial. It’s about surviving the first session.”

Young fast bowlers Ishwar Pandey and Avesh Khan would be expected to give their team the early breakthroughs in the first session’s play. Talking about the pitch at the Eden Gardens, Pandey said, “I played here two-three years ago. There was not much of bounce then. But now even the side wicket is offering a lot of bounce. The nature of the wicket has changed.”

“I’m looking forward to bowl on this wicket. I think 350 will be a par total,” he declared.

Bengal’s pace attack will be spearheaded by Ashok Dinda and Ishan Porel.

Teams (from):
  • Bengal: Manoj Tiwary (c), Abhimanyu Easwaran, Abhishek Raman, Sudip Chatterjee, Anustup Majumdar, Shreevats Goswami, Aamir Gani, B Amit, Pradipta Pramanik, Ashok Dinda, Ishan Porel, Koushik Ghosh, Mukesh Kumar, Vivek Singh, Shahba Ahamad and Writtick Chatterjee.
  • Madhya Pradesh: Naman Ojha (c), Aryaman Birla, Ankit Dane (wk), Rajat Patidar, Shubham Sharma, Yash Dubey, Ankit Sharma, Mihir Hirwani, Avesh Khan, Ishwar Pandey, Kuldeep Sen, Saransh Jain, Venkatesh Iyer, Mohnish Mishra and Gourav Yadav.

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