Ranji Trophy: Inconsistent Bengal takes on beleaguered Hyderabad

Bengal coach Arun Lal admits the absence of Ishan Porel, who is in New Zealand with the India A team, is a setback for the host.

Bengal captain Abhimanyu Easwaran in action at the Ranji Trophy.   -  FILE PHOTO/ SUDHAKARA JAIN

 

“Bengal lost to Vidarbha inside two days, right?” said the cab driver. “But Hyderabad is playing even worse.”

You don’t exactly expect the average Indian cricket fan to follow the domestic cricket so well, but then this is Kolkata, a city that is more passionate about sport than any other in the country.

That statement by the knowledgeable cricket fan, Krishna Chhetri, during the drive from the airport to this small city on the eastern side of Hoogly river, just about sums up the scenario ahead of the Ranji Trophy match between Bengal and Hyderabad, which gets underway at the Bengal Cricket Academy Ground on Sunday.

The host’s coach Arun Lal is still smarting from that nine-wicket defeat to the defending champion at Nagpur last week. “It was prepared as a square-turner,” said the former India opener. “All the teams in the Ranji Trophy are so desperate for wins that they try to make wickets that don’t last the full four days.”

READ| Ranji Trophy: Ishant Sharma set for return against Vidarbha

It was in search of a win that Bengal moved this match from the Eden Gardens, though. “It would always either be a seaming track or a flat wicket at the Eden Gardens,” reasoned Lal. “I was hoping we would get more turn from this wicket, but it looks like a good one for batting for the first two days, and the spinners could come into play only later.”

The coach admits the absence of Ishan Porel, who is in New Zealand with the India A team, is a setback. And he wants Abhimanyu Easwaran to start scoring heavily once again. “I hope he isn’t burdened by the captaincy,” he said.

The skipper may not have scored a fifty yet this season, but his team is reasonably placed still with 12 points from four games.

Hyderabad, on the other hand, has just six points from five matches — it lost four of them — and is placed 16th among the 18 teams that make up Group A and B.

Like Bengal, it also has to overcome the loss of a key pace bowler to the India A team – Mohammed Siraj — who had taken seven wickets in the team’s solitary win against Kerala.

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