Ranji Trophy: Already-qualified Bengal up against struggling Odisha

Bengal, on 32 points from four wins and two draws, is six points clear of its closest competitor, Uttrakhand, in the group and is unlikely to lose its top spot.

Against Odisha, the host will be without the services of all-rounder Shahbaz Ahmed (in picture) and pacer Mukesh Kumar.

Against Odisha, the host will be without the services of all-rounder Shahbaz Ahmed (in picture) and pacer Mukesh Kumar. | Photo Credit: KUMAR SS

Bengal, on 32 points from four wins and two draws, is six points clear of its closest competitor, Uttrakhand, in the group and is unlikely to lose its top spot.

Having ensured a place in the quarterfinals, Bengal will be looking to carry on its winning momentum and close its Group-A campaign with a win over Odisha in the Ranji Trophy clash starting at the Eden Gardens here on Tuesday.

Bengal, on 32 points from four wins and two draws, is six points clear of its closest competitor, Uttrakhand, in the group and is unlikely to lose its top spot.

Against Odisha, the host will be without the services of all-rounder Shahbaz Ahmed and pacer Mukesh Kumar. While Shahbaz is part of the Indian side for the ongoing ODI series against New Zealand, Mukesh has been named in the National side for the upcoming T20I series.

Bengal will have to find a replacement for Mukesh, who took four wickets in the team’s away win over Haryana in the last match. A fit again Pritam Chakraborty stays ahead in the race.

The form of Bengal batters, including Abhimanyu, last match’s centurion Anustup Majumdar, Sudip Gharami and captain Manoj Tiwary, this season will give confidence to the home side.

Ishan Porel and Akash Deep have served the team well and will take the maximum responsibility in pace bowling.

Pradipta Pramanik and young all-rounder Karan Lal have proved their worth in the spin department and will be ready for the challenge.

“We will continue to focus on our process. The boys have played well so far and we will aim to continue doing it and take the positive momentum ahead,” said Bengal head coach L.R. Shukla.

Odisha, placed seventh in the group with eight points, will be eager to upset Bengal to record its first win. The Subhranshu Senapati-led side, which conceded the first innings lead to Uttar Pradesh in its last outing, will be keen to gather some points in order to finish the season on a high.

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