Ranji Trophy: Tamil Nadu, Bengal in crucial tie
Chennai: For more than one reason does Bengal welcome the return of Sourav Ganguly for the key game against Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy Super League commencing at the Guru Nanak College Ground.
Beset with injuries and illness, Bengal coach and former India and Tamil Nadu opener Woorkeri Raman pointed out that for the past couple of games, his team could barely rustle up 12 fit players.
"We managed with a squad of 12 players, but I must say that the boys have measured up well under the circumstances. In this context, Ganguly`s presence will definitely make an impact and hopefully, we will be able to do well," Raman said.
Bengal are in desperate quest for points to move up the Group A leaderboard from their present fifth position with eight points while Tamil Nadu are second behind Mumbai on 10 at the half-way mark of the league competition.
Both Tamil Nadu and Bengal have had a roller-coaster ride so far. Tamil Nadu, after an outright win against Assam in their opening match, picked up three first innings lead points in the next game against Saurashtra, but drew the next two home outings that were affected by inclement weather.
On their part, Bengal, who are yet to score an outright win, had their best moments against Delhi and Gujarat, garnering a total of six points. However, they could manage just one point against Assam, who batted extremely well to score 588 for six for the vital first innings lead, and Mumbai, who rattled up a 600-plus total.
"Against Assam, we did not have (Ashok) Dinda who was not fit and his replacement, Shami Ahmed, contacted viral fever and was off the field for two hours. We had our chances but we did not take them," said Raman.
Thus, this week`s game is crucial for both teams and with Chennai in the midst of a dry, balmy spell, both sides are hoping to get four full days of action.
While Bengal, bolstered by Ganguly`s presence, will be without regular stumper Wridhhiman Saha, who is with the Indian team for the ODI series against New Zealand, Tamil Nadu would be missing two key players in off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and opener Murali Vijay, both also away on national duty.
"For the Tamil Nadu game, Saha`s replacement Sreevats Goswami has gone home due to viral fever. So, it has been a bit of struggle for us this season, but there is not much you can do about it," Raman said.
Unless either side bats badly, it is more than likely that the first innings lead will again prove decisive as the frontline batsmen in both teams have displayed good form while the bowlers have not exactly distinguished themselves, although Tamil Nadu did take 20 wickets to score an outright win against Assam in their opening fixture.