The trophy is ubiquitous in the Bengal dressing room in the form of pictures and cut-outs.Enough to keep the team motivated right through this season’s Ranji Trophy.
Manoj Tiwary has thrice featured in a Ranji final, but the coveted crown has eluded him.Bengal played good cricket in the tournament’s last two editions only to finish runners-up and semi-finalists, respectively.
Though he’s yet to make up his mind, this may well be Tiwary’s last Ranji campaign.So the Bengal captain wants to give his all and is also urging his teammates to do the same for another shot at the title.
“I’ve been visualising holding the trophy and celebrating with the team.I have taken print-outs of the trophy and splashed its pictures and cutouts in our dressing room for our last three-four matches.
“I did it so that whenever we are down in a phase, we can pump ourselves up looking at the trophy as it solidifies the fight we’re putting up,” Tiwary said on the eve of Bengal’s quarter-final clash against Jharkhand at Eden Gardens.
Barring the loss to Odisha in their final group-stage game, Bengal have finished with either a win or three points in their other six matches which had smoothened their path to the quarter finals.That said, this is the knockout round which calls for a fresh start and the team too is well aware of the uncertainties the situation brings along with it.
Quality-wise, Bengal are slightly ahead of Jharkhand, who are a little too reliant on captain Virat Singh, and senior pros Saurabh Tiwaryand Shahbaz Nadeem.Besides, the addition of pacer Mukesh Kumar — released from India’s T20I squad — has strengthened Bengal’s bowling arsenal.
Bengal will also be able to avail of spinner-allrounder Shahbaz Ahmed’s services.But their batting hasn’t been consistent so far, with the opening combination being a matter of concern.
The team management, however, is hopeful of youngKazi Junaid Saifi — set to open alongside Abhimanyu Easwaran — translating his U-25success at the senior level, while Anustup Majumdar too is fit to retain his No.4 slot.
A spot is up for grabs between all-rounder AkashGhatak and batsman Sumanta Gupta.
The latter may be handed his debut in order to bolster the batting.
Today’s match: Ranji quarter final: Bengal vs Jharkhand at Eden Gardens, 9am live on Hotstar