The challenge of Punjab and pace

Calcutta: One is not sure whether Manoj Tiwary and Ashok Dinda's mind would wander beyond the premises of Mohali's PCA Stadium to Mumbai where the Team India players would be busy brushing up their skills ahead of the India-England Test series.

But it would be better if their entire focus remains restricted in Mohali, where Bengal take on Punjab in their second match of this season's Ranji Trophy, simply because the challenge is going to test the Tiwary brigade to the hilt.

Playing on green tops has always been a concern for the Indians and Bengal are not an exception.

While the batsmen usually struggle incessantly to adjust to the bounce of the pitch, the bowlers fail to rise to the occasion and use the rising delivery to good effect.

The home teams, somewhat familiar with the conditions, somehow manage to stitch a proper performance together, but for the visitors it has often been nightmares during daytime.

Bengal's vulnerability to pace and bounce is profound that at times, they falter even during their home outings. For example, take Bengal's home match against Tamil Nadu in the last Ranji season.

So pathetic was Bengal's performance that the visitors not only dominated the proceedings and won the match, but they did so with a bonus point.

Beginning Friday, Bengal once again will have to prove their mettle on a testing surface as the Mohali pitch has a fair sprinkling of grass.

But much has changed over the last year. While almost the entire batting line-up has a new look with the likes of Anustup Majumdar, Subhamoy Das, Jayojit Basu, the bowling attack has players like Sourav Sarkar and Veer Pratap Singh, who are eager to prove a point or two about their capabilities.

The experience of Tiwary, Wriddhiman Saha, Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Ashok Dinda will be there to look up to. But even then, it will be extremely difficult four days of action for the visitors.

Punjab have revelled under the similar conditions in their last match, defeating Hyderabad by an innings and 68 runs. The likes of Manpreet Gony, Siddharth Kaul and Sandeep Sharma had hunted the Hyderabad batsmen in pack.

But captain Tiwary sounded optimistic that his side has the wherewithal to shine on a green top. "Tackling a green top is all about the mindset... You need to take the challenge head on and cannot run away from it. I believe that the boys are not afraid to play on this kind of track… We are ready to face the challenge," Tiwary told The Telegraph.

"A lot will depend on the how we execute the plans on the field. We will be taking one session at a time and we hope to dominate every session," he added.

Bengal have started the Ranji Trophy campaign on a sound note, bagging three points against the defending champions Rajasthan. And they will surely look to gain on the positives from the game.

Punjab, however, will be without the talismanic duo of Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh as both the players will be attending the Indian camp.

It remains to be seen whether their absence pegs back the hosts. The Punjab duo were lucky to make the cut in the Indian squad. The onus is now on the Bengal duo, of Tiwary and Dinda, to prove that they would be missed in Mumbai.

Related report: Page 16

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

The former England batsman will have to lead the franchise as he is out of the match against Bangalore with a finger injury. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Michael Klinger has revealed he felt compelled to leave South Australia after being told he would be only a fringe part of the Redbacks' plans for next season, and disputed the suggestion that he left… More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

The revival of Indo-Pak Test ties could take place in UAE. More »

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

'This time around we will hope to go few more steps ahead and actually get that trophy' More »

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Apart from the foreign players a lot of behind-the-scene activity has taken place in selecting the Indian domestic players. More »

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Leading Spanish club Atletico Madrid and former cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly are among the owners of eight franchises of a new Indian… More »

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

Kiwi all-rounder wants to utilise the India leg to explore the country’s tourist attractions. More »

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Says his mother made him change his mind. More »