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Jharkhand, TN, Bengal spice up Group B of Mushtaq Ali meet

9th January 2021
The Elite Group B of Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy kicking off tomorrow featuring six teams will throw up a keen contest with Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Bengal having a slight edge on paper at least.
The meet will also signal the start of the BCCI domestic season after the world was held captive to a raging pandemic for the major part of last year.
Both Bengal and Tamil Nadu have won the tournament once. While Tamil Nadu won the meet in 2006-07 when it was called Inter State T20 Championship and then relaunched as Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy from 2009-10 onwards, Bengal won the tournament in 2010-11. Since then, Tamil Nadu has reached the final once, when they lost to Karnataka last season.
Bengal will be playing at home giving them an obvious advantage. Moreover, the players got the necessary match practice as Cricket Association of Bengal held the Bengal T20 Challenge just a fortnight back getting the players back in the groove after a seven month lay-off due to the pandemic.
The Bengal squad has a perfect mix of seniors and juniors with Anustup Majumdar, rewarded with captaincy after his fine form last season and the consistency shown during the T20 league as his batting prowess helped local side Mohun Bagan reach the final, leading from the front. The batting line-up will also feature Manoj Tiwary, Sudip Chatterjee and Shreevats Goswami all in fine form.
The inclusion of youngsters Mohammed Kaif, Shahbaz Ahmad, Prayas Ray Barman, Kaif Ahmed and Kazi Junaid Safi will certainly add mettle to the team. The bowling line-up will see Ishan Porel return to the ranks after his rehab in NCA, while Mukesh Kumar and Akash Deep looked in fine nick during the T20 meet.
The squad had a very good camp under batting consultant V V S Laxman and team coach Arun Lal when they honed their skills further and settled down as a squad for the meet. Tamil Nadu also brings a strong side with Dinesh Karthik as skipper. Batting all-rounder Vijay Shankar and Baba Aparajith gives the side the right balance, as does the young blood in J Srinivas, Pradosh Ranjan Paul, M Siddharth and R Sai Kishore. B Indrajith, Aswin Crist, G Periyasamy and N Jagadeesan. This gives the side its necessary experience to shoulder any pressure and also have the exuberance of youth and flamboyance that the shortest format of the game demands.
Another team to look out for is Jharkhand. With the very talented Ishan Kishan leading the squad, the team has seasoned campaigners like Shahbaz Nadeem, Saurabh Tiwary and Varun Aaron. Add to them a host of youngsters in Pankaj Kumar, Anukul Roy, V Tiwari, Utkarsh Singh, Virat Singh and Satya Setu waiting to make a name for themselves. The side has the perfect balance of youth and experience, big hitters and wicket takers making them a side to watch.
Hyderabad could be the dark horse in the group as they have assembled a squad that has the right mix. Tanmay Agarwal will lead a side of young talents like Rahul Buddhi, Bavanaka Sandeep and Mickil Jaiswal to bolster their batting. While Ajay Dev Goud, Karthikeya Kak and Tilak Verma bring the all-rounder prowess that is in such demand in a T20 scenario. You could expect some fireworks from the 2009-10 runners-up when the game gets going.
Assam and Odisha may also pull a rabbit out of the hat with sides that are raring to go and hungry to prove themselves. Led by Subhranshu Senapati (Odisha) and Rishav Das (Assam) the teams boast of some exciting players and big hitters who could turn a game on its head on their day.
So come Sunday we can see some six raining and boundaries scorched as six teams with fire in their belly gets the ball rolling on the domestic circuit of BCCI at the iconic Eden Gardens and Jadavpur University Ground at Salt Lake.
Elite Group B Squads:
Odisha: Subhranshu Senapati (captain), Shantanu Mishra, Pratik Das, Biplab Samantray, Abhishek Raut, Govinda Poddar, Ankit Yadav, Rajesh Dhuper (wicket-keeper), Pappu Roy, Suryakant Pradhan, Rajesh Mohanty, Sarbeswar Mohanty
Bengal: Abhimanyu Easwaran, Manoj Tiwary, Sudip Chatterjee, Anustup Majumdar, Ravi Kant Singh, Abhishek Das, Mohammed Kaif, Aritra Chatterjee, Suvankar Bal, Writtick Chatterjee, Prayas Ray Barman, Sujit Yadav, Kaif Ahmed, Shreevats Goswami, Ishan Porel, Kazi Junaid Saifi, Ritwik Chowdhury, Vivek Singh, Shahbaz Ahamad, Arnab Nandi, Mukesh Kumar, Akash Deep
Tamil Nadu: Dinesh Karthik (captain), Vijay Shankar (vice-captain), R S Jaganath Sinivas, B Aparajith, B Indrajith, Aswin Crist, M Shahrukh Khan, C Hari Nishaanth, K B Arun Karthik, Pradosh Ranjan Paul, N Jagadeesan, R Sai Kishore, M Siddharth, L Suryapprakash, Mohammed, G Periyasamy, Sandeep Warrier, J Kousik, R Sonu Yadav, M Ashwin
Jharkhand: Ishan Kishan (captain), Virat Singh (vice-Captain), Vikash Vishal, Anukul Roy, Shahbaz Nadeem, Sonu Kumar Singh, Varun Aaron, Rahul Shukla, Pankaj Kumar, Kumar Deobrat, Saurav Tiwari, Uttakarsh Singh, Anand Singh, Monu Kumar Singh, Vivekanand Tiwari, Bala Krishna, Aashish Kumar, Satya Setu
Assam: Rishav Das (captain), Pallavkumar Das, Riyan Parag, Amit Sinha, Rajjakuddin Ahmed, Abhishek Thakuri (wicketkeeper), Arup Das, Amlanjyoti Paresh Das, Pritam Das, Mrinmoy Dutta, Rahul Singh, Saahil Jain, Mukhtar Hussain
Hyderabad: Tanmay Agarwal (captain), Tilak Verma, Kartikeya Kak, Rahul Buddhi, Bavanaka Sandeep, Kolla Sumanth (wicketkeeper), Mickil Jaiswal, Chama V Milind, Telukpalli Ravi Teja, Himalay Agarwal, Ajay Dev Goud, Yudhvir Singh, Prateek Reddy, Tanay Thyagarajan.

Arindam Basu