Arun Lal: Looking forward to Sourav Ganguly doing great things

Bengal coach Arun Lal feels the BCCI is in good hands as there has never been a former captain at the helm of affairs earlier.

Bengal coach Arun Lal at the Dhruve Pandove Stadium in Patiala on Thursday.   -  AYAN ACHARYA


Bengal head coach Arun Lal was a happy man on Thursday. His team, spearheaded by the experienced Manoj Tiwary with the bat, had taken a step closer to the Ranji quarters after piling a 186-run lead against Punjab on a pitch that will become increasingly difficult to bat on.

Late in the 2018-19 season, when Bengal was struggling, former captain Arun Lal was appointed as mentor. It last reached the Ranji final in the 2006-07 season, and remains in contention for a spot in the knockouts this year after a fairly good run in the league phase. Lal is overseeing the transition from U-19 to senior professionals.

Sportstar caught up with Lal to discuss Bengal cricket, India U-19 and Team India's middle order.

Is there a risk of losing talented U-19 cricketers to the IPL?

Some of them are being fast tracked, yes, but you can't help it. It's an open market and teams are always on the look out for talent. We (Bengal) have a player named Prayas Ray Barman, he's 17 and they (Royal Challengers Bengaluru) bid crores for him. He is a leg spinner, a great fielder and a good batsman too. It's too early. That said, we shouldn't tamper with the system that is in place. Prayas is still very young, he's playing u-19 cricket still! There's risk of being overwhelmed at such a young age but that risk is worth it. He'll find his feet. He hasn't even achieved half his potential in U-19, so I'm pretty confident he'll be playing for Bengal as a good all-rounder in the years to come. We are desperately looking for a leg-spinning all-rounder but we are not fast-tracking him.

There is also Ishan Porel, who was part of the 2018 Under-19 World Cup-winning squad and is currently part of the India A outfits. How do you assess his progress?

Last year, Ishan wasn't fit enough for this level of cricket. He's got height, hits the deck hard and he can get a set batsman out. This year, we worked him to the bone because I felt he wasn't fit enough for two months of hard on-field training... 25 rounds of ground and sprints. Last season, he would struggle after bowling a few overs but look at him now. The change is evident. One more good season like this, and he could be an India contender. Likewise Akash Deep is equally promising on tracks that assist seamers. Mukesh Kumar, who got six in the last game, was dropped here... So we've got a good all round team, a horses for courses side and the best part is none of them crib when they're left out of the squad.

Sourav Ganguly taking over the reins at BCCI augurs well for Indian cricket?

There has never been an India captain at the helm of affairs. He has matured well, has learnt a lot on his journey and I don't think there's anyone better for this job. He says the right things, he's politically correct and doesn't instinctively react. He's measured. I am looking forward to him doing great things. You have guys who have played the game running it now, that's great because you are on the same page more often than not.

Team India's middle-order continues to be a topic of discussion ahead of the World T20. Do you feel Shreyas Iyer has cemented the No. 4 spot for Australia?

It's still too early to say. Iyer is a very good batsman, I like him a lot. But the thing is we have such a huge and diverse talent pool, that you never know who will be where six months from now. The same goes for Rishabh Pant. He shouldn't lose heart. He's still too young. These are exciting times for Indian cricket. When was the last time you had an Indian pace attack that was this diverse and this good? I like how Navdeep Saini is shaping up as well.

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