Ranji Trophy: Bengal, Punjab gear up for must-win match

Bengal will host Punjab at the Jadhavpur University in its final Group B match with a win necessary to stay in contention for a quarterfinal berth.

Bengal pulled off a surprise win against Delhi in its previous match.   -  PTI

In a must-win contest, Bengal has thrown a spin challenge to Punjab in its last Group B Ranji Trophy match, starting at the Jadavpur University ground here on Monday.

Considering that both Bengal, placed seventh with 22 points in the combined table of Groups A and B, and Punjab, slotted 10th with 20, does not have the desired depth in spin department, the host has taken a calculated risk to lay a “result-oriented track.

An outright win will keep either side in contention for a quarterfinals berth.

Punjab captain Mandeep Singh recognised the gamble. “We will play positively and go for a result,” he said.

“We will go for seven points,” said Bengal skipper Manoj Tiwary.

While Bengal will take heart from its record chase of 322 runs to beat last season's finalist Delhi in a grudge match, Punjab will be confident because of its handsome win over Kerala following some indifferent performances.

Read: TN, Delhi clash with nothing but pride to play for

With off-spinner Aamir Gani and left-arm spinner Pradipta Pramanik leading Bengal's spin department, the host may opt for part-time options – including Tiwary, Writtick Chatterjee and Anustup Majumder – instead of fielding a new face, like leg-spinner Prayas Ray Barman, in a crucial match.

Bengal is placed seventh with 22 points and Punjab is at 10 with 20 points after seven matches. Bengal can gather a maximum of 29 points if it secures an outright win with a bonus point. Punjab can get up to 27 points. Qualification to quarterfinals will depend on results of other teams in Group A and B.

 

Leg-break bowler Mayank Markande is the leading spinner for star-studded Punjab. Left-armer Vinay Chaudhary and off-break bowler Arpit Pannu may support Markande.

Besides, Punjab has the choice of using Yuvraj Singh and Gurkeerat Mann.

Punjab's batting onus will be on in-form batsman Shubhman Gill.   -  V.V. Subrahmanyam

 

With an in-form Shubman Gill, captain Mandeep Singh, Gurkeerat and Yuvraj, the Punjab batting looks solid on paper.

Match winner Abhimanyu Easwaran, Tiwary and Abhishek Raman hold Bengal in good stead.

Punjab, consisting of Siddharth Kaul, Manpreet Gony and Sandeep Sharma, seems to be ahead in seam bowling. But the advantage is likely to be neutralised because of the pitch.

Bengal ace Ashoke Dinda, with or without the assistance of Mukesh Kumar, will be good enough to take care of the new ball.

Whether the match lasts for four days or not, entertainment is in store for sure.

The teams

Bengal: Manoj Tiwary (captain), Sudip Chatterjee, Ashoke Dinda, Anustup Majumdar, Shreevats Goswami (wk), Abhishek Raman, Koushik Ghosh, Abhimanyu Easwaran, Mukesh Kumar, Ananta Saha, Pradipta Pramanik, Aamir Gani, Writtick Chatterjee, Prayas Ray Barman and Agniv Pan (wk).

Punjab: Shubman Gill, Jiwanjot Singh, Anmolpreet Singh, Mandeep Singh (captain), Yuvraj Singh, Gurkeerat Mann, Gitansh Khera (wk), Mayank Markande, Manpreet Gony, Siddharth Kaul, Baltej Singh, Arpit Pannu, Vinay Chaudhary, Sandeep Sharma, Sanvir Singh.

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