Tuesday, December 27, 2005


I am livid

Ah, Sourav Ganguly again? For what now? Ah, at last for some valid reason this time. He did not play for Bengal in the Ranji Trophy match against Gujarat. And this time, I am livid. I am ready to scream riot.

And no, it is not because of any of the Kiran More-type agitations. We all can see that More has pretty much lost it, and his Raj Singh Dungarpur-ish tirades and volte-faces are a source of much hilarity. And the Indian team cricketers not playing Ranji matches has never been much of an issue previously (in fact, Ganguly is one of the few guys who played his share of Ranji matches whenever he could), and well, if a Shane Warne retires from One-day cricket and a Chris Cairns does the same with Test cricket, to prolong their careers in the other form of the game, one cannot really blame a Ganguly, a Kumble, a Dravid or a Sachin for not playing Ranji games.

Then why am I angry? Well, that’s because this is the year in which (I believe) Bengal can go all the way in the Ranji trophy. We** have a perfectly well-balanced team. IMHO, we have the most potent bowling attack among the teams competing for the Ranji Trophy, with two almost India-level quickies in Ranadeb Bose and Shib Shankar Paul; an extremely competent off-spinner in Sourashish Lahiri and a decent left-arm spinner in Shibsagar Singh. There are three decent all-rounders in Manoj Tewari, Laxmi Rattan Shukla (who bowls sparingly nowadays) and Ganguly (and yes, at the Ranji trophy level, he is quite a decent bowler), and a competent batting wicketkeeper in Deep Dasgupta. In the batting stakes, we are right up there among the best, with a solid opening pair in Subhamoy Das and Arindam Das, Devang Gandhi at one-drop, Ganguly at two-drop, Rohan at five, Deep at six, Shukla at seven and Tewari (or Shibsagar) at 8. Our batting order runs deep, and we have competent bowlers. What’s more, Bengal is one of the best fielding squads of them all. What else could one ask for? We top the pool presently, with three matches left (including the one going on now, against Gujarat), and one more win could see us reach the finals. Not tough, considering that we have only the bottom dwellers in the group, Tamil Nadu and Railways left to play against.

And Gujarat is one of the weakest team in Group A- Elite. With an in-form Ganguly, we could have been well-nigh unstoppable against them. Remember, with Ganguly in the team, we took two points home against Maharashtra, one of the stronger teams in the group. And I agree that we won against Delhi without him, but Ganguly does give the team a lot in terms of his batting, his bowling, and even in the general boost to the morale, when he is playing.

Ganguly should have played this match. We needed him in the squad. Yet, for whatever reason, he did not play. Sad.

** I use ‘we’ rather than ‘they’ for both the Bengal and Karnataka teams. And if you are asking who I supported in the Bengal vs. Karnataka match, I will agree to have been supporting Bengal. But I would not be in denial, I was quite happy at Bharath Chipli filling in admirably at the opener’s slot with Uthappa, and would not hide my mild displeasure at Rowland Barrington’s indifferent form this season. I remember him unleashing a few exquisite cover drives at the RVCE ground, playing for St. Joseph’s. If he could put all the pieces together, I think he still has a shot at playing for India in the future.

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