Upbeat Bengal meet hosts Tamil Nadu in do-or-die contest
Chennai: A young Bengal team will take on the mighty Tamil Nadu in the final group league encounter which effectively is a do-or-die battle for both teams eyeing a knock-out berth in the Ranji Trophy.
Both teams are on 18 points from seven games but Tamil Nadu with a better run-quotient are placed fourth while Bengal are a notch down at fifth.
Tamil Nadu had their best chance of winning outright against Rajasthan but conceded a first innings lead and got a point from the game.
Bengal on the otherhand have defeated Uttar Pradesh in their last game and will now hope to create an upset on a track that will obviously help the spinners. Bengal have also loaded their team with spinners. Apart from left-arm spinner Iresh Saxena and offie Saurashish Lahiri, spinning all-rounder Arnab Nandy and batsman Writtick Chatterjee are also expected to roll their arms over.
Therefore, the hosts are pushed to the wall in such tight situation and their hopes continue to hinge on the performance of against Bengal, the final chance to make the quarterfinal stage of this prestigious tournament.
Its spinners the two left-armers Rehil shah and Aushik Srinivasan, as well as off-spinner Malolan Rangarajan would be under pressure in this crucial game.
The top two teams on point table -- Railways (27) and Uttar Pradesh (23) have more or less sealed their berths from Group B, while Baroda with 20 points and Tamil Nadu and Bengal with identical 18 points would be fighting for the third and final berth from the group to progress to the quarterfinal stage.
Though, Baroda with three wins and three losses and one abandoned tie against Bengal are a hurdle for both Tamil Nadu and Bengal, their chances are fairly higher as they require only a draw with first innings lead against Rajasthan to gain an entry to next stage.
But, Tamil Nadu and Bengal not only require an outright win and seven points (including one for bonus) would be required to make the cut. Therefore the hosts would be under tremendous pressure with the onus on them.
Again everything will depend on skipper Laxmi Ratan Shukla, who has been in tremendous form having scored two hundreds and a 95 in his last four games. Pacer Ashoke Dinda -- fresh from his 10-wicket haul will also like to trouble the Abhinav Mukunds and the Baba Aparajiths.