Ranji Trophy: Punjab hit by injuries to block horns with Bengal in a game he must win

PATIALA: Bengal coach Arun Lal He studied the pitch at Dhruv Pandove Stadium before his crucial Ranji Trophy Group A match against Punjab from Wednesday for about 15-20 minutes.

By the look of his face, he clearly appeared miffed. "The board has to look at the Ranji Trophy as it's a premier tournament. We should not play matches on such pitches. Not a single ball has been bowled, but it is already looking like a Day 4 pitch," Lal told TOI, expressing his displeasure. "It is looking under-prepared. It will turn from the very first over. Based on my experience, I can say the match won't last more than two days," he said. The last match here between Punjab and Andhra ended in just two days and saw 24 wickets tumbling on the opening day itself. It even prompted the Board of Control for Cricket In India ( BCCI ) to change the curator three days before the game.

On the other hand, the race to the quarterfinals has warmed up with Gujarat (29 points) and Saurashtra (28 points) already cementing their places. Andhra's place (27 points) also seems safe. Bengal, Punjab and Karnataka are struggling to get hold of the two remaining slot machines in their groups A and B.

Bengal need three points to secure their berth in the knockouts. Their coach Arun Lal believes his team will go for an outright win.

Punjab wants a result and that is why they have prepared this release. We will also look for a victory because after looking at the field, I can say that the advantage of the first inning is out of the question. We will go with an extra spinner Let's see what this surface holds for the two teams, Lal said, with a smile on his face.

For Bengal, a victory or even a first inning will confirm his place in the quarterfinals.

We have played a special cricket throughout the season. The way we crawled and recorded a two-win win against Rajasthan was incredible. It shows you the character of this team, they never give up, he said.

We also suffer a lot from bad weather. Our matches against Andhra, Delhi and Gujarat were swept away by the persistent rain in Kolkata. We lost six or seven points. If we had not lost those crucial points, we could have comfortably qualified for knockouts, Lal said.

Puncture wound for Punjab

Punjab had a promising start in his campaign with two absolute victories but a fall in form and lack of availability of Shubman gill At the top of the order they have hindered their performance. Now the fate of the team is in their own hands. They will have to beat Bengal or take the first entry to consolidate their place for knockouts.

But one day before his life or death match against Bengal, the home team has been hit by injuries and the flu. The mid-order hitter Gurkeerat Singh Mann is out due to a knee injury, while leg player Mayank Markande is sick with the flu and will not participate in the match.

Siddharth Kaul, Punjab's main wicket player, also has a fever, but his coach, Munish Bali, is confident he will get in shape for the game in the morning.

The loss of Gurkeerat and Mayank is a big blow to us. We've added mid-order hitter Arush Sabharwal and leg shooter Raghu Sharma as the replacement, Bali said.

When asked about his views on the field, the Punjab coach said: We know the nature of this field. Most of our boys have played here. We want a victory and the team is eager to go, he added.

Punjab left the duo of Anmolpreet Singh and starter Sanvir Singh of the team. They have been replaced by Nikhil Chaudhary and bastman Ramandeep Singh.


Punjab: Mandeep Singh (C), Siddharth Kaul, Vinay Chaudhary, Rohan Marwaha, Arush Sabharwal, Abhijit Garg, Harpreet Brar, Nikhil Chaudhary, Baltej Singh, Abhishek Gupta, Ramandeep Singh, Sharad Lumba, Raghu Sharma, Anmol Malhotra (WK)

Bengal: Manoj Tiwari, Abhimanyu Eashwaran (C), Anustup Majumder, Shreevats Goswami (WK), Abhishek Raman, Akashdeep, Mukesh Kumar, Golam Mustafa, Arnab Nandi, Kaushik Ghosh, Shahbaz Ahmed, Writtick Chatterjee, Nilakanto Das, Shreyan Chakraborty and Ramesh Prasad