Kolkata: After their disastrous show in two consecutive home matches, bottom placed Bengal will have their best chance to turn it around when they face an equally struggling Tamil Nadu in their Ranji Trophy cricket group A fixture here on Monday.
Bengal could make it count little in the last two home matches as they lost to Karnataka and settled for one point against Mumbai and in both the outings they were made to follow-on by the respective visitors as batting will be a huge concern for the home side.
It was against Tamil Nadu last season Bengal had registered a thrilling four-wicket away win to make the last eight as they would definitely look forward to win to boost their sagging morale.
Manoj Tiwary, who looked in his elements in his half century against Mumbai, will once again play a pivotal role to gain the first innings lead, while in bowling they will be forced to bring in senior seamer Sourav Sarkar in place of either Veer Pratap Singh or rookie Pritam Chakraborty.
Senior off-spinner Saurashish Lahiri, who was dropped in the last match as Bengal had opted for an extra batsman, is all set to return in place of Suvojit Banerjee to add variety to the attack.
With two more home matches (against Jammu and Kashmir and Railways) left for Bengal this season, time is running out fast for the last year's semifinalists to make the top three and qualify for the knock-outs.
"We've analysed what has gone wrong and we will be keen to rectify the mistakes," skipper Laxmi Ratan Shukla told reporters indicating their sloppy catching against Mumbai.
Bengal can draw inspiration from their last season's surge when they won three successive matches -- Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Railways (quarterfinals) -- to make it to the semifinals.
Tamil Nadu are placed fifth in the table with eight points from four matches but not all is well as they come here on the back of conceding first innings lead to Railways at the Chepauk.
Opting to bat, Tamil Nadu were bundled out for a meagre 213 as batting again will be the key area for the visitors. With one century and three half centuries from four matches, opener Abhinav Mukund will once be the backbone of their batting which will also have senior wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik.
In bowling, however, Tamil Nadu may be forced to rethink their spin bowling strategy on the Eden greentop that almost looks indistinguishable from the outfield as senior pro Laxmipathy Balaji may make a return.
Off spinner Malolan Rangarajan has been the leading wicket-taker for Tamil Nadu, while they also have left-arm orthodox Rahil Shah and Aushik Srinivas in their ranks.