Desperate Bengal confronts Gujarat in a crucial Ranji match

Calcutta, January 2 () With the weather threatening to steal the opening day play, Bengal finds himself in a difficult family situation against a Gujarat in the form of a Ranji Trophy Elite match that starts here on Friday.

In their previous game, Bengal had taken a firm stand against Andhra, but the rain and the bad light resulted in a truncated match and, finally, the hosts had to settle for three points based on the advantage of the first inning.

Out of the top five in the elite cross group, Bengal will have to watch out for the skies with a rain forecast for Friday. But the team with mentor of Arun Lal will be desperate to get full points against a team, which is on a roll with successive victories over Hyderabad and Kerala at home.

They are in front of us on the table and that makes it more important. They are the main contenders (to make knockouts). We need points from each match. We should have obtained all the points in the last match, but you can't win in two and a half days. It is difficult for us. It depends a lot on the weather, Lal said.

In the absence of Ashok Dinda, who is out of the team for disciplinary reasons, Ishan Porel, 21, enjoyed the challenge of being the de facto leader of the Bengal rhythm attack while destroying Andhra's middle order, picking up Hanuma's wickets Vihari, Ricky Bhui and KS Bharat in an explosion of three wicket.

Porel, however, could not continue the momentum towards the end to let Andhra escape, who managed to save the game after the follow-up.

In the batting department, Abhishek Raman, with two consecutive centuries, will be the only one to consider, while Captain Abhimanyu Easwaran will also be desperate to return between races before leaving for the New Zealand tour with the side of the India A later this month.

Bengal will lose both Easwaran and Porel in the later stages of the first national tournament, since both are part of the India A team, bound for New Zealand.

Bengal may also be tempted to deliver a 24-year-old Ranji cap to Ritwik Roy Chowdhury, instead of a fighting Sudip Chatterjee.

The Gujarat led by Parthiv Patel also boasts the talented starter Priyank Panchal, who scored 90 victories against Hyderabad, while the experienced duo of Piyush Chawla and Axar Patel will lead the spinning attack.

Visitors will also admire some ideas of coach Sairaj Bahutule, who was in charge of the Bengal side before Lal took over. Of course, he (Bahutule) can provide us with some ideas about his team pattern and how they can address a particular situation. Both sides are strong and whoever wins well will win, Patel said. TAP SSC SSC

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