Tiwary skips practice session ahead of Mushtaq Ali opener against Tripura

Bengal captain confirms he will play against Tripura

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Wriddhiman Saha and Debabrata Das during the Bengal practice at JU campus on Monday. Image Source: Xtra Time

Kolkata: After a mixed season in Ranji Trophy, the focus for the Bengal cricketers shifts to Syed Mushtaq Ali zonal tournament. Bengal begins their campaign against Tripura on Tuesday at the Eden Gardens. But the major worry for Bengal team management is Captain Manoj Tiwary is not well and might miss the opener. Manoj did not train with the team at the Jadavpur campus. If he is not available then Pragyan Ojha will lead the Bengal team at Eden Gardens.

“He (Manoj) must have rested himself. May be his body was tired. I think he should be fit to take the field tomorrow,” said Bengal coach Sairaj Bahutule after the practice session at JU campus.

Later Manoj when contacted by xtratime.in confirmed that he will take the field against Tripura. “I just had a bit of cold, so I chose not to train. I am feeling much better now and I will lead the side tomorrow against Tripura.”

Coach Sairaj Bahutule feels the Bengal team has done reasonably well in the Ranji Trophy this season. According to Bahutule, “I believe Ranji Trophy season went off well for us. Both the Tamil Nadu and Baroda matches were close. Among the five matches we had two outright wins against UP and Punjab. Had we got an opportunity to play against Gujarat, things would have been different. I think we had an overall very good season.”

He further added, “Now our focus shifts to T20 format. The boys have worked hard. VVS and TA Sekhar were here last week. We had match situation practice as well. I think the preparation has been good and the boys are looking forward to the tournament.”

There is a mixed response about the format of the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament this season. This season the tournament will have no semi finals and finals, but a zonal team will be formed comprising of the best performers in the zonal phase. There will be a tournament between the zones on a later date.

Sairaj Bahutule declined to comment anything on the new format and decided not to get indulge himself in the recent debate.

“I have mentioned in the team meeting that Bengal is one of the top teams in the country. More than individual performances we are looking at team performances. We have to play good cricket to be a top team in the zone.”

The strip at Eden Gardens will favour the fast bowlers. Bengal is likely to go in with a three prong pace attack. Ashoke Dinda, Veer Pratap Singh and Sayan Ghosh will comprise the pace bowling attack.

Former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is likely to play the last league encounter against Bengal. On being asked how intimidating will it be for his players, Sairaj said, “It’s good for the tournament that MS (Dhoni) will be playing in spite of his busy schedule. That speaks volumes about his commitment if he does. But we will be looking at our strengths and not worried about the other teams.”

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