New Delhi: Bengal's young batting line-up will be put to test by a quality Gujarat side boasting of two India internationals in Jasprit Bumrah and Axar Patel when the two sides square off in a Ranji Trophy group A encounter on Saturday.
Both are on even keel with 15 points to their credit but Gujarat lead the table by virtue of better run rate.
Bengal's young top order has fired in all three matches that they have played till now.
But it will be a tricky affair on a low and slow Kotla track where Axar can prove to be handy with his immaculate line, Bumrah can trouble with his yorkers, not to forget old wily fox Rudra Pratap Singh who can still pull a trick or two on non-responsive pitches.
The last match at Kotla between Baroda and Punjabproduced nearly 1200 runs with Deepak Hooda and Yuvraj Singh scoring 293 and 260 respectively.
One expects the track for current game will be a bit better. Abhimanyu Easwaran and Sayan Sekhar Mondal have provided good starts with both having hit hundreds.
Sudeep Chatterjee has been consistently hitting half centuries but the three-figure mark eluded him. Skipper Manoj Tiwary also has been solid as ever at No 4.
Rookie Agniv Pan has had two 50s to his credit. Shreevats Goswami who comes back in the XI in place of Wriddhiman Saha also has a century to his credit.
"Gujarat are a quality side. Parthiv is a top class batsman and they have India players like Bumrah and Axar. But speciality of this Bengal team is that they are not scared of names unlike earlier times. This is a happy dressing room," Bengal skipper Tiwary said.
On the possible composition of the side, Tiwary hinted that one among Amit Kuila and Sayan Ghosh will have to make way for the fit again Pragyan Ojha.
"We all know Kotla is a slow wicket. We need to have two spinners. So Ojha and Gani will be playing. As far as pacers are concerned Amit is more of a hit the deck bowler who gets the ball to kick up from good length or short of length.
"On this pitch, I want someone who can reverse the ball well. Sayan Ghosh has a round arm action which helps in getting reverse swing. As of now, my choice of Dinda' s partner is Sayan. Also if we need a third seamer, we have Mondal," said Tiwary.
The Bengal skipper feels that a solid core has been prepared because of Sourav Ganguly's Vision 2020 Project.
"We are reaping benefits for the process that has been put in. We have two talented young bowlers in Kuila and Ishan Porel. In fact it was Dada (Ganguly) who told me to check out Kuila and watch his progress.
"He felt this boy has potential. Also Mukesh Kumar and Ishan' s injury paved the way for him. He will get better with better guidance," said Tiwary.
Saurashtra seek first win
Rain may once again come in the way of last season's runners-up Saurashtra when they face a struggling Assamin the clash of two bottom-placed teams in group B of the Ranji Trophy here tomorrow.
A depression over Bay of Bengal has caused intermittent showers for two days and there's forecast for more and both the teams will keep a watch on the sky with a first innings lead being a realistic target if four days' play is not possible.
Saurashtra have been unlucky on a couple of occasions and are still searching for their first outright win. They find themselves ahead of bottom-placed Assam on six points from three matches.
Rain had denied them an outright win in their lung-opener against Rajasthan who secured a draw following-on.
In the previous match, Saurashtra missed left-arm pacer Jaydev Unadkat as Maharashtra, following on with a deficit of 475 runs, escaped with a draw with 345/8 at close.
A fit-again Unadkat, who was down with fever, will return to bolster the pace attack of Saurashtra but now rain has come to haunt them again.
"We could have got wins there but there was rain in the match against Rajasthan. We have been unlucky and got three from each match. There's rain here again," captain Jaydev Shah said.
Fresh from his 217 against Maharashtra, the middle-order batsman is in sublime form this season with 474 runs from three matches at an average of 118.50.
"Let's hope that there's play and we will look to put a big score," he said.
While batting has been their strength, the return of Unadkat will certainly boost their attack against Assam who have lost three matches (Delhi, Rajasthan and Karnataka) and remain on one point from four matches.