Having pulled off remarkable wins over Tamil Nadu and Railways in their past two must-win encounters, Bengal will be locking horns with giant-slayers Maharashtra in the Ranji Trophy semi-finals from Saturday in Indore
And fans here in Kolkata are naturally excited about their team’s prospects. In order to keep the players motivated, the Cricket Association of Bengal put up a huge board outside the BC Roy Club House at Eden Gardens yesterday, allowing thousands of fans to wish their team well before they left for Indore.
Football legends PK Banerjee and Amal Dutta and former India and Bengal cricket captain Sourav Ganguly too signed on the board. Bengal coach Ashok Malhotra said: “We won the last two matches from nowhere and our never-say-die attitude came to the fore.
In the quarters against Railways we were in trouble at 40-4 but our captain Laxmi Ratan Shulka was calm and told me: ‘Main hoon na.’ (I’m here) That’s the spirit the boys have shown.”
Malhotra called up former BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale to enquire about the nature of the pitch at the Holkar Stadium and was informed that it will assist pace bowlers. As a result Bengal will be fielding four front-line pacers.
The coach also received a text message from the legendary Kapil Dev, who is impressed with Bengal’s performance in the tournament. It read: “Yeh tune kya kar diya?(What have you done with the team?).”
Malhotra added: “Out of 29 matches for Bengal as captain I won 26. People don’t talk about that. I believe the coach must work behind the curtains and I am just doing that.”