The fact that most of the 26 probables announced by the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) recently featured in the Bengal T20 Challenge – 33 matches played between six clubs from West Bengal – augurs well for the state side going into the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT).
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Bengal wicketkeeper-batsman Shreevats Goswami acknowledged that having played 17 days of competitive cricket will hold the players in good stead ahead of domest T20 tournament. The 31-year-old, however, clarified that while Bengal would be better prepared, all states would be on level footing once the tournament starts.
“We still have a long gap. But true, Bengal players will be in the game zone already. I am not sure what other states are doing with their practice games. But everybody has almost played 10 games in the Bengal T20. So they will be more used to being in that situation after a long time.
“We will have our quality practice, then we will get into the Mushtaq Ali. So it should help, there will be some advantage. Having said that, it doesn’t mean this is an advantage over other teams. Just from the preparation point of view, we are just better prepared than other teams,” Goswami, who scored 283 runs at an average of 31.44 for East Bengal, reasoned.
Shreevats Goswami made the headlines on November 30 after smashing a match-winning 100* off 71 balls against Calcutta Customs at the Eden Gardens. Asked about his current form, Goswami said he is hitting the ball well and would look to further improve in the training camp for SMAT.
“Pretty confident at the moment, I have been hitting the ball quite ball. Once we get into the practice zones, I am sure I will do well,” Goswami, who plies his trade with the SunRisers Hyderabad in the IPL, stated.
‘I am sure the quality of the pitch will improve,’ says the Bengal wicketkeeper-batsman
Bengal reached the final of the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy, only to lose to Saurashtra by virtue of a first-innings lead. The Abhimanyu Easwaran-led side’s key to success was the wickets scalped by the pace triumvirate of Akash Deep (35 wickets in 9 matches), Mukesh Kumar (32 wickets in 10 matches) and Ishan Porel (23 wickets in 6 matches).
However, the Bengal T20 Challenge has issued a timely reminder to CAB chief curator Sujan Mukherjee that the strip at the Eden Gardens has considerably dried up and slowed down.
Shreevats Goswami attributed the slowness to the surface being under covers for close to eight months during the coronavirus-enforced lockdown. The Bengal stumper, though, sounded confident that the pitch will be back to its usual self before SMAT.
“The tournament took place after a long time, nothing was happening for almost eight months. The Bengal T20 Challenge was also organised in a short notice. I am sure nobody had time on their hands, the wicket provided was a bit slowish. It happened because of under-preparation, otherwise Eden has always been a wicket for fast bowlers, also during winters.
“Also 33 games were played in 2 weeks, so the wickets became slow and aided turn because of wear and tear. But otherwise when we will play the Syed Mushtaq Ali, I am sure the quality of the pitch will improve,” Goswami, who has scored 2,131 runs including 12 fifties in 98 T20s, added.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has selected Kolkata as one of the six bio-secure hosts for the forthcoming Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, which will be played between January 10 and 31. A final decision on the Ranji Trophy and Vijay Hazare will be taken during the course of SMAT.
Published 16 Dec 2020, 20:35 IST