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Bengal ready for Ranji test

5th October 2017
With Wriddhiman Saha and Mohammed Shami in the ranks a confident looking Bengal will begin the BCCI domestic season 2017-18 with their Ranji Trophy campaign kicking off at the nation’s capital against Services tomorrow.
And none other could be happier than skipper Manoj Tiwary: "Getting the best of players in the first game is lot of advantage. We have to utilise this opportunity and ensure that we have 6 points on board. Starting with this lead will give momentum for the the upcoming matches.”
Matches will be conducted on home-away basis from this season again bringing about that sense equality. Asked about the advantage the duo brings, he said: "It is absolutely crucial as I am aware of the fact that we will be getting Shami (Mohammed Shami) to play for Bengal. I am hopeful that along with Ashok Dinda they will give the bowling the teeth it requires. Moreover, with Wriddhiman Saha, we will have a safe pair of hands behind the stumps and a solid bat in the middle of the innings.”
The team has been practising hard under the supervision of coach Sairaj Bahutuley. He said: "I think the preparation has been very good because in the KSCA the players have started playing matches and then they worked hard on the fitness. Most of the guys have been playing competitive cricket Some of them have gone for the Duleep Trophy, some of them got selected in India A. Manoj, Dinda, Abhimanyu Eshwaran, Sudeep--all these guys have been playing in Duleep trophy and India A as well. We are not getting Sreevats as he is with the Indian team, but we have Wriddhi. All these guys have been involved in competitive cricket and the rest has also played in the practise matches in Surat against Gujarat. Now they're looking forward to the season."
He is quite hopeful seeing the balance and condition of the side: "I think the balance between the senior players and the juniors is finely blend, especially with Manoj’s leadership quality and man management skills. Moreover we have good players like Dinda who gives his hundred percent and is always motivated. Wriddhiman Saha and Mohammed Shami are also available for now. We also have talented juniors like Pradipto Pramanik, Amir Gani and other youngsters like Abhimanyu Eshwaran, Sudeep and Kaushik Ghosh.”
Asked about the opposition, he said, "I think all teams are good. I am a strong believer of not underestimating anyone. You know I just feel every game we have to play with the same intensity. Even if it is our first game we have to respect our opponents. They also have good bowling attack. The way I see it every game is as important as the next one. We need not think too much about what the other team is expecting us to do.
He added, "I think like every season the boys are looking forward to it. They are determined to win each and every game and they are determined to win the Ranji Trophy also. At the same time it is important that we play good cricket and keep it very simple. The format of home and away which is back is good as the youngsters can see their heroes play at the Eden Gardens and get motivated to play like them."
Talking about his own form, Manoj said: “I was in fine nick last season. I will try to contribute to the side to the best of my ability.”
The team has worked extremely hard in the Vision 2020 camp under V.V.S. Laxman, T.A. Shekhar and Muttiah Murlitharan, the Bengal coach observed.

Saptaswa Mukherjee and Arindam Basu