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Bengal sow hope on home turf versus Karnataka in Ranji Trophy

The semi-final of Ranji Trophy between Bengal and Karnataka begins Saturday at Eden Gardens

By Sayak Banerjee in Calcutta

  • Published 25.02.20, 1:37 AM
  • Updated 25.02.20, 1:37 AM
Laxmi Ratan Shukla
Laxmi Ratan Shukla Telegraph picture

Karnataka will certainly start favourites going into the Ranji Trophy semi-final, but Bengal cannot be written off, feel former captains Deep Dasgupta and Laxmi Ratan Shukla.

According to Dasgupta, Bengal have the advantage of playing at home. The semi-final begins Saturday at Eden Gardens.

“Bengal are as good a side as Karnataka. Obviously, going by Karnataka’s overall record, they would be the favourites. But Bengal’s advantage is that they are playing at home, so they just need to enjoy the occasion and make sure they don’t start feeling the pressure of a semi-final.

“They are in a good mental space, so they just need to have fun and enjoy,” Dasgupta told The Telegraph from Mumbai on Monday.

KL Rahul is all set to join the squad, which will add to Karnataka’s strength. “Good that Rahul is playing. It will make the game more and more intense and interesting,” felt Shukla, minister of state — sports and youth affairs.

“So what if Rahul is playing? Anyone may play. You need just one good ball to get a batsman out,” Dasgupta remarked.

“If I were in that (Bengal) dressing room, I wouldn’t have cared if it was KL Rahul playing or Rahul Dravid playing. Just trust yourself and believe you are as good as them.”

Abhimanyu Easwaran hasn’t been able to get too many runs of late, but Dasgupta says the captain is just one big knock away.

Asked if captaincy was affecting Abhimanyu, Dasgupta said: “On one side he is the captain and the other side, he is not scoring runs, so it’s natural for everyone to correlate that. But you don’t know what the actual case is.

“Now, when your team plays well, what you require is one good knock in a vital game like a semi-final. A 200 here and everyone will forget how Abhimanyu has done earlier.

“In high-profile matches, a big knock matters a lot because they are shown live and everyone watches.”

Shukla, on his part, said: “Captaincy always brings along its share of pressure since it’s an added responsibility. But Abhimanyu needs to back himself.

“I feel he appears to be a tad slow with his footwork. He needs to react fast.”