Calcutta: For Bengal it was almost a catch-22 situation on the 22-yard strip at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, at Rajkot, on Saturday.
The host association prepared three pitches for the Bengal-Saurashtra match. While the other two pitches seemed to be flat, the third one was a bone dry wicket with a bit of grass on the surface, which helped to bind the pitch together. With all the matches, being played at the stadium, producing run-feasts, it led the Bengal team think-tank in believing that the match would be held on one of the flat pitches.
In reality, it turned out to be the other way around ' the match being played on the turner. Bengal were caught completely unawares and were left red in the face as they chalked out a wrong strategy ' playing with three seamers and a spinner.
And, much to the chagrin of the side, they found out that their opponents had the right balance in their squad, with three spinners. In the end, it was left-arm spinner Iresh Saxena, who bailed the side out as he took five wickets for 17 runs to bundle out Saurashtra for 209. That he returned the figures off just 12.3 overs will give one a fair idea about the nature of the pitch.
"We were under the impression that they will be playing the match on one of the flat wickets. We were caught completely off-guard when we learnt that we will be playing on the turner… That we learnt their strategy after taking the field also didn't help matters. It is, of course, our failure," said a senior player.
Samir Dasgupta, the team manager, too said that they didn't expect the pitch to be a turner. "We were absolutely surprised and shocked… We never expected that they will be playing on a turner."
A Bengal selector said a review of the team's performance could be done to set the house in order. "I had a talk with the team manager. He told me about the situation. We will certainly question the team management about the reason for not playing another spinner in the Saurashtra match. And if we lose this match, a review of the team's performance will certainly be done."