Ranji Trophy: Bengal wary of Madhya Pradesh at home
Kolkata: Bengal will have a testing time at home when they take on Madhya Pradesh in their group B Ranji Trophy match beginning at the Eden Gardens here on Wednesday.
Boasting a fiery attack with left-arm pacer Ishwar Pandey up their ranks, Madhya Pradesh had defeated Bengal comprehensively at home last season, while in 2011-12 they walked away with three points chasing down 496 in the first innings here.
With a green-top on offer, Pandey who already has 12 wickets from two matches will be tempted to utilise the early morning moisture as the home side will have plenty to think about.
The 24-year-old left-arm pacer was the highest wicket taker (52) in the first-class matches last season and played for India A in away and home series against South Africa and West Indies.
It will be interesting to see how Bengal batting, without their mainstay Manoj Tiwary, rise up to the challenge in the next four days.
"Tiwary makes a difference to the side and his absence will be an advantage," MP captain Devendra Bundela said today.
"We have done well against Bengal in the past and the boys are looking forward to another good show," Bundela said adding that getting three points would be their priority.
In batting, MP opener Satyam Chaudhary already has an unbeaten double century against Railways in their opening match while Mohnish Mishra and skipper Bundela too have showed promise with half-centuries.
Both the teams are on par in the points tally with four each from two matches.
After a wash out opening fixture against Baroda here, Bengal showed some promise in the last round returning with three points from Rajashtan.
MP, on the other hand, came here after conceding first innings lead to Tamil Nadu that came after clinching three points against Railways, both at home.
That MP will be playing away for the first time this season will give an edge to Bengal as skipper Laxmi Ratan Shukla today hinted to play a three-pace attack with Saurav Sarkar all set for a return.
"He has high possibility to play, he`s a match-winning bowler," Shukla said of Sarkar today.
In Sarkar`s absence Manojit Ghosh made his debut against Rajasthan but it seems the young seamer may have to sit out tomorrow.
Bengal will have to rely on wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha in the batting department in the absence of Tiwary.
Shukla, who had an extending batting session at the nets today, said: "Not only bowling, I will like to contribute in all the departments of the game."
Bengal: Laxmi Ratan Shukla (c), Rohan Banerjee, Arindam Das, Anustup Majumdar, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Subhomoy Das, Sandipan Das, Saurasish Lahiri, Ashok Dinda, Shib Shankar Paul, Manojit Ghosh, Saurav Sarkar, Iresh Saxena, Arnab Nandi and Shreevats Goswami.
Madhya Pradesh: Devendra Bundela (c), Satyam Choudhary, Jalaj Saxena, Naman Ojha (wk), Mohnish Mishra, Udit Birla, Rameez Khan, Anand Rajan, Amarjeet Singh, Ishwar Pandey, Jatin Saxena, Ankit Sharma, Shubham Sharma, Zafar Ali and Nikhil Sawke.
Umpires: Rajesh Deshpande (Mumbai CA) and Piyush Khakhar (Saurashtra CA); Match Referee: S Sarath (TNCA).
Match starts: 9am IST.