Bengal look to turn a new leaf in Mushtaq Ali meet
KOLKATA: Bengal have a job on hand as they begin their campaign in the Syed Mushtaq Ali (T20) meet with a match against Assam in Mumbai on Friday.
Bengal selectors acted tough after the team failed to qualify for the knockout stage in the Vijay Hazare Trophy (50-over). Ashok Dinda was dropped from the squad, vice-captain Sudip Chatterjee and senior pro Anushtup Majumder were also ignored - thus sending a strong 'perform or perish' message to all.
The stakes will be high for the youngsters as they get an opportunity to make a mark before the IPL players auction in Kolkata next month. "Everyone in the team is fit and raring to go," skipper Abhimanyu Easwaran said on Thursday, the eve of their Group 'D' opener.
The Abu Nechim-led Assam side may not be a powerhouse of domestic cricket, but the uncertainty of this shortest format makes every match important. Assam, incidentally, had defeated Bengal in their previous T20 meeting.
Easwaran will have to lead from the front after the batting unit faltered in the Vijay Hazare meet. Big-hitters like Vivek Singh and Debabrata Das have been included in the squad, but the team will depend a lot on the seasoned Manoj Tiwary. The former skipper's experience will come in handy for the relatively young side.
In Dinda's absence, the onus will be on young Ishan Porel to spearhead the bowling attack. The former India U-19 World Cup-winning pacer will be high on confidence after picking up a five-wicket haul in the Deodhar Trophy final recently. Ravikant Singh, another former India U-19 bowler, will also be hungry to deliver and seal a berth in the Ranji Trophy squad.
Bengal will also hope that allrounder Shahbaz Ahmed, who did well in the 50-over format, reproduces his Vijay Hazare Trophy form.
"We have the advantage of playing the match later in the day. So we hope to have a good idea of the nature of the pitch before I go out to toss. The final XI will be decided before the match only," Easwaran stated.