Syed Mushtaq Ali T20: Easwaran in focus as Bengal takes on Assam

With the selectors deciding to look beyond Ashok Dinda, the challenge will be on captain Abhimanyu Easwaran to get the best out of a rather young bowling unit.

Bengal captain Abhimanyu Easwaran at a training session at the Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai on Thursday.   -  SHAYAN ACHARYA

 

Bengal will be hoping to cope with life without Ashok Dinda when it begins its Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy campaign against Assam on Friday.

With the selectors deciding to look beyond the pace ace, the challenge will be on captain Abhimanyu Easwaran to get the best out of a rather young bowling unit.

At the Bandra Kurla Complex, where the wicket is likely to aid the batsmen, it will be interesting to see how the likes of Ishan Porel, Sayan Ghosh, Ayan Bhattacharjee and Akash Deep adapt to the conditions. Pacers Porel and Ghosh have been quite consistent performers, whereas Akash Deep too scalped 12 wickets in the Vijay Hazare Trophy to break into the top league.

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And in Dinda’s absence, they have a lot to play for.

However, there are concerns on the batting front as well. With the selectors leaving out seasoned campaigners Sudip Chatterjee and Anustup Majumdar from the side, the trio of Easwaran, Shreevats Goswami and seasoned campaigner Manoj Tiwary need to come good.

In the Vijay Hazare Trophy, Bengal struggled in the batting department and it needs to be seen how the side bounces back in the T20 format, which has never been its forte. Bengal coach Arun Lal is confident of the team’s success this time

Assam, too, will rely on its young guns. Captained by the experienced Abu Nechim, the side has youngsters like Riyan Parag and Rajjakuddin Ahmed in its ranks.

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Even though Riyan scalped 13 wickets in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, he did not fare well with the bat. In nine games, he could score only 128 runs. Having played for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL last season, Riyan knows what it takes to deliver under pressure, and he will be hoping to regain the momentum.

Assam coach Ajay Ratra admits that it’s a young side but he made it clear that his boys will not give up without a fight.

In the other match of the day, Haryana will be playing Meghalaya.

Friday’s fixtures at BKC

10 am: Haryana vs Meghalaya

2 pm: Bengal vs Assam