Even as Bengal is all set to play another Ranji Trophy final at home after 33 years and hopes to repeat its title winning feat, much of its fine showing so far has rested on the fabulous performance of its batters.
Of the three recent seasons (2019-20, 2021-22 and 2022-23), in which Bengal has reached the finals twice and the semifinals once, the current one stands out for the consistency of its main batters, who have scored plenty of runs. As a result, the side has recorded six big wins — including two innings victories, one by more than 300 runs and another by nine wickets.
Three Bengal batters — Anustup Majumdar (790), Sudip Gharami (789) and Abhimanyu Easwaran (782) — have gathered close to 800 runs each and three others — captain Manoj Tiwary (398), Shahbaz Ahmed (339) and Abishek Porel (283) — have also scored substantially.
This has happened in spite of the fact that Abhimanyu and Shahbaz were absent for a few matches due to India duty and the team did some experimentation for at least one opener’s slot.
Bengal coach L.R. Shukla, who desists from making tall claims and has advised his players to keep their feet on the ground ahead of the final against an accomplished Saurashtra starting at the Eden Gardens here on Thursday, opened up a little to put his batters’ good work in perspective.
“The nets session has become longer, giving the players’ time to bat for more time. In cricket, fitness is skill specific. The more you do it, the better you become.
“It is unlike the fitness we normally associate with athletics and other sports,” Shukla told The Hindu on Tuesday.
“During our nets sessions, the stress has been on the skills. If the session starts at 9 a.m., then players reach the ground around 7 a.m. and start practising.
“So, by the time the session gets over, they train for four to five hours.”
Shukla acknowledged the role of batting consultant W.V. Raman, who worked with the side prior to the season. “W.V. Sir helped us. He has a busy schedule, but we keep in touch.”
According to Shukla, a methodical approach benefited the side. “We are following the old method of cricket. We have been playing together to achieve success,” said Shukla.