Ranji Trophy: Depleted Bengal look to youngsters against Uttar Pradesh

Kolkata: Needing a miracle to book a quarterfinal berth, Bengal is planning to inject young blood in their line-up against Uttar Pradesh on an Eden green top in a group B Ranji Trophy fixture beginning on saturday.

At least three youngsters, including U-19 batsman Abhimanyu Easwaran, are likely to make first class debut for Bengal in what would be their last home match before they conclude their league outing in Tamil Nadu.

Placed fifth, Bengal are safe from being relegated to group C, while to make the last eight they need to win their remaining two matches which would be nothing short of a miracle.

In such a scenario, the team strategy would be to go out in a fearless manner and give the youngsters an ample chance to show their mettle.

"We want to throw our young players to the deep end and see how they perform. We want to create an atmosphere where they can play freely. We`re playing for a win and greentop is the only option," coach Ashok Malhotra said on friday.

There was another setback in the Bengal camp with their leading scorer and opener Arindam Das suffering a sore back.

In skipper Laxmi Ratan Shukla`s words the opener is in "doldrums" to play tomorrow as Kaushik Ghosh might be the other debutant.

In the middle order, Bengal are likely to bring in Writtick Chatterjee, a spin allrounder to give variety to the attack.

The in-form skipper Shukla, who scored a valiant 95 not out against Railways in their last match, will once again be their batting mainstay in absence of their two quality batsmen in Manoj Tiwary (injured) and Wriddhiman Saha who is doing the national duty.

The bowling department without Mohammad Shami, who is now an India regular, is also struggling and it remains to be seen how the likes of Shib Shankar Paul and Ashok Dinda use the green surface to their favour.

In fact, it looks to be advantage Uttar Pradesh who boast of a formidable pace attack in former India seamer RP Singh, Imtiaz Ahmed and rookie Amit Mishra who has picked 13 wickets from three matches including 7/59 against Rajasthan.

In batting, Mohammad Kaif`s slump in form would be a concern but fresh from a bonus point victory against Services, the Piyush Chawla-captained side will pose a big challenge for Bengal.

Uttar Pradesh lead the group table with 20 points on basis of a better NRR against Railways as they have a bright chance to finish among top three to make the last eight.

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