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With eye on knockouts, Bengal face
Haryana in challenging Lahli pitch

16th January 2023
An unbeaten Bengal side will aim to take a big step closer to the Ranji Trophy knockout stage with a victory against Haryana in their sixth and penultimate Elite Group A match at the Chaudhary Bansi Lal Cricket Stadium in Lahli starting on Tuesday.
Currently placed at the top of Group A with 25 points from five games, with three wins, the Laxmi Ratan Shukla-coached side will go into this match after a thrilling seven-wicket victory over Baroda last week.
Going by the reputation of the Lahli pitch, which produces results more often, Bengal will fancy their chances, thinking that a victory in this match will put them in a strong position to make the quarter-finals.
The Manoj Tiwary-led side will take a lot of positives into the match, the biggest being the rich form of top-order batters Abhimanyu Easwaran and Sudip Kumar Gharami.
The right-handed batting duo have been in sublime touch smashing big runs in the last few games.
Both the batsmen will aim to deliver once again to put their team in a strong position.
While the experienced Anustup Majumdar and captain Manni himself will hold the key in middle order.
But Bengal will miss the service of their all-rounder Shahbaz Ahmed, who has been named in India squad for New Zealand ODIs starting on Wednesday.
In Shahbaz's absence, young Pradipta Pramanik will be the key.
In the fast bowling department, Mukesh Kumar, Akash Deep and Ishan Porel will look to make the most of the seamer-friendly pitch. Considering the pitch, Bengal might also include an extra seamer.
Mukesh, who joined the Bengal team in their previous match, was ruthless with the ball bagging seven wickets against Baroda.
On the other hand, Haryana will go into this match with just a win from their five games so far. After losing their opener, Haryana bounced back to draw three followed by an innings and 69 run victory against Nagaland in their previous match.

Arindam Basu