Ranji Trophy 2012-13: Struggling Bengal to face youthful Hyderabad
Kolkata: Struggling to get their act together, Bengal will have problems aplenty without their star players, Manoj Tiwary and Ashok Dinda, when they take on a youthful Hyderabad side in their Ranji Trophy match, beginning here on Friday.
While regular skipper Tiwary has been ruled out for about six weeks with a back injury, Dinda is a part of the Indian squad in the ongoing Nagpur Test.
In their absence, a completely off-colour struggling Bengal outfit under Laxmi Ratan Shukla will look to avoid relegation with just two more league matches left.
Bengal have put up a disastrous show in the ongoing season with both their batsmen and bowlers failing to seize the initiative. They are yet to register a single victory in the six matches they have played so far. With three losses they are placed at seventh position in the nine-team table.
After a humiliating 270-run loss against Saurashtra in the previous round, Bengal will have a tough task at hands as far as the lifting of morale of the team is concerned.
On the eve of the match, Bengal have brought in uncapped Naved Ahmed in place of Tiwary and Sayan Sekhar Mondal for "injured" Sourav Sarkar.
The decision came a day after the selectors opted to retain the same squad that played in Saurashtra and minutes after CAB chief Jagmohan Dalmiya`s close-door meeting with the players to discuss about their woeful show this season.
While naming Shukla the skipper, the CAB had yesterday announced the same team that toured Saurashtra but only to change it on the eve of the match.
Although Hyderabad are in no better position than Bengal, occupying the eighth place with four draws and a loss, they would look to turn it around with three league matches left.
In fact, it would be a battle of equals with Bengal looking to fill the void left by the duo, while Hyderabad banking on the youngsters to deliver with former India batsman VVS Laxman not available with a back injury.
Batting has been Hyderabad`s main strength with the young brigade -- opening batsman Akshat Reddy, B Sandeep and Hanuma Vihari, who was part of the World Cup winning India U-19 side, forming the core.
Desperate for a win, Bengal have opted for a greentop, indicating a three-plus-one pace-spin attack.
"It looks green. But we are up for the challenge. It`s always a tough battle at this level and we are confident to get as many (points) as we can," Hyderabad coach Sunil Joshi said on the eve of the match.
The visitors were given a wet practice wicket and they had to wait more than four hours for Bengal`s practice to get over in the morning.
"The wicket was wet so we had to request for the adjacent strip and we got it," the coach said.
Bengal: Laxmi Ratan Shukla (c), Arindam Das, Rohan Banerjee, Sandipan Das, Sudip Chatterjee, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Abhishek Jhunjhunwala, Debabrata Das, Sayan Sekhar Mondal, Iresh Saxena, Mohammad Shami Ahmed, Veer Pratap Singh, Aritra Chatterjee, Gitimoy Basu and Naved Ahmed.
Hyderabad: Akshat Reddy (c), B Sandeep, Anwar Khan, Ravi Kiran, Paramveer Singh, Sarvesh Kumar, Ahmed Kadri, Akash Bhandari, K Sumant, Habib Ahmed, Ashish Reddy, Vishal Sharma, Hanuma Vihari, Parth Jhala, Mehdi Hasan.
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