Ranji Trophy: Laxman wants Bengal 'to enjoy the game' in semifinal against Karnataka

Calling Bengal's run to the semifinals a 'team effort', former India batsman V. V. S. Laxman wants Abhimanyu Easwaran and Co. to enjoy the occasion and express themselves against Karnataka.

VVS Laxman

Bengal players must enjoy the big occasion of semifinal, says former India batsman V. V. S. Laxman.   -  R. RAGU

A mouth-watering clash is in the offing when Bengal takes on Karnataka in a Ranji Trophy semifinal clash at the Eden Gardens, this Saturday.

While the home team looks confident after a dominating show against Odisha in the quarterfinals, Karnataka is bolstered by the return of India international KL Rahul.

Ahead of the crucial tie, former India batsman V.V.S. Laxman has a message for the Bengal cricketers -- ‘enjoy the moment and play to your potential’.

Being the batting consultant of Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB)’s Vision project, Laxman has worked with the Bengal cricketers for a while in the pre-season camps and he is happy to see the hard work paying off.

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“What’s really good to see was that the last few matches have showed the real character of this Bengal team. There were a lot of closely fought contests in tough conditions, but this team has come out trumps. That shows the team has got great fighting spirit,” Laxman told Sportstar.

That attitude, Laxman believes, is important for a team in the knock-out stages.

“The other notable thing was that it was not about one or two players. Everyone has contributed -- be it the bowling department or the batting department. So, it’s been a total team effort,” the former India batting ace said.

In the pre-season camps, Laxman had long sessions with the batsmen. Ask the cricketers and they would say how those sessions have helped them improve their game. “It was a pleasure working with this guys. They are not only talented, but also, are very hardworking. They are always willing to learn and improve. I hope that hard work and amount of time they put in preparing for the season, that will bear fruit and give them the desired results,” Laxman said.

The last time Bengal reached the semifinal of the Ranji Trophy was in 2017, when it lost to Delhi. But now that another opportunity has come its way, the team doesn’t want to let it go. “My advice is that they should go out, enjoy the game and play to their potential. Only then, will you be able to express yourself. When you are playing the semifinals or final, you want a total team effort, like they did in the previous game. By that, you can win important moments…”

While he understands that Karnataka will be a tough opponent, Laxman makes it clear that it is important for the players to not focus on the result. “The focus should rather be on the process.”

“You always focus on achieving your goals and targets and executing the plans. As long as you try and achieve that, the result will take care of itself,” Laxman insisted.

Even though he won’t be in Kolkata for the game, Laxman will keep a close watch on his boys and would hope to see Abhimanyu Easwaran’s boys storming into a final, after 13 long years.

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