Bengal bolstered by return of Saha, await BCCI call on Shami
Kolkata: Bengal will be bolstered by the return of regular wicketkeeper batsman Wriddhiman Saha in their grudge Ranji quarterfinal match against Railways at Eden Gardens from January 8-12.
"He (Saha) is available for the quarters," Bengal skipper Laxmi Ratan Shukla said on the sidelines of the team`s practice on Friday. A frontline batsman in absence of Manoj Tiwary, Saha, who was with the India`s tour to South Africa, missed Bengal`s last three group league matches.
Other two key players of Bengal, Manoj Tiwary and Mohammad Shami, are however unlikely to be available in the knock-out fixture. Tiwary who is recovering from a knee surgery will have to pass a fitness test at the NCA on January 6 in Bangalore as Bengal might not take `risk` of bringing in a player without match practice for a crucial quarter-final tie.
The stylish Bengal batsman was seen doing some light training with his teammates and had a knocking session as well.
Shami is also virtually ruled out as the India pacer is scheduled to leave for New Zealand along with his teammates a day after BCCI`s awards ceremony in Mumbai on January 11. CAB joint secretary Subir Ganguly said that they would request BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel to allow Shami play the crucial knock-out match for Bengal.
"We would speak to Mr Patel but it needs to be seen whether Zaheer Khan, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are allowed to play for their respective states. If they are allowed, there is no reason, why Shami won`t be allowed," Ganguly said.
Having stormed into the quarters with a stunning four-run win against Tamil Nadu, their second win as many matches, a confident Bengal will start as favourites against a team that snatched three points in an ill-tempered league match in Delhi.
But for Shukla and Company, it`s not a revenge match. "What happened there against Railways earlier in December was all past. This is a new game," Shukla said referring to the match in which Railways skipper Murali Kartik `Mankaded` Bengal batsman Sandipan Das to draw flak.
After going down by conceding the first innings lead in the drawn tie, Bengal players refused the customary handshake with the Railwaymen.
But Bengal are determined to look beyond the match and take the team forward from where they left against Tamil Nadu. "The boys are supremely confident after beating Tamil Nadu in Tamil Nadu. We start with a lot of positive energy," Shukla added.
Meanwhile East Zone ground and pitch committee representative Ashish Bhowmick today oversaw the preparation of the wicket which once again will be a green top. "We are preparing a sporting wicket so that both the batsmen and bowlers will make use of it. We want a result-oriented wicket," Bhowmick told reporters.