New Delhi: A treacherous 22-yard strip at the Karnail Singh Stadium and the presence of a certain Sourav Ganguly are the primary reasons of attraction as hosts Railways take on Bengal in a do-or-die final Super League encounter of the Ranji Trophy.
With both teams aiming for an outright victory, there is a huigh possibility that the match may not go into the fourth day unless couple of batsmen from either side show enough technical acumen to last on a strip that promises to be a rank turner.
The most intriguing aspect of the pitch at the Railway stadium were the two big damp spots on either side of the wicket.
After beating Delhi in a low-scoring affair in the earlier match, hosts Railways have ensured that their top spinner Murali Karthik (if fully fit) manages to get big turn straightaway.
“I won’t be surprised if I find the spinners get into action from the very first hour tomorrow,” was Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary’s frank assessment of the strip. One might just find the Bengal captain bowl his fast leg-breaks considering the rough that is already there.
However one senior player in the Bengal team was even more forthright.
“When there’s been no rain in Delhi, how do you have two big damp spots on both sides of the wicket. I have never seen this kind of patches in my years of first-class cricket,” the player stated.
Bengal coach WV Raman also echoed his captain’s feelings.
“This is a pitch that will do a lot of things,” the former India opener said.
To put it mildly the pitch is an underprepared one.
Otherwise how would one define groundsmen bringing baskets of dry grass and putting on the dry patches. One example would be enough to prove the fact.
During an earlier match at Karnail, a Murali Karthik delivery literally took off from the rough and hit Amol Mujumdar on the helmet grill.
If the pitch has been the primary focus, Sourav Ganguly’s presence obviously adds to the curiousity value that will help Bengal in the match.
The last time Sourav played here, he scored 69 vs Goa as Bengal regained their Elite Status.
“At this level and the kind of player Sourav is, it’s more about mentally fine-tuning yourself for a first-class match. More than the hours you practice it’s how you feel mentally is the key,” coach Raman said.
Even opposition captain Sanjay Bangar conceded that Ganguly’s presence will help Bengal.
“The kind of experience he (Sourav) has will help Bengal,” said Railways captain.
The major reason of worry for Bengal will be Shreevats Goswami’s injury. He was in acute pain during the training session and was getting treatment from team physio. If Goswami is ruled out, it might be Anushtup Majumdar who will then keep wickets.
For Railways, it will be leggie Karan Sharma who will come in place of speedster Amit Mishra. There are talks of playing a third spinner in Nilesh Chauhan considering the strip in mind.