Bengal completed the second day of their training camp for the 2021 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy at the Jadavpur University Salt Lake campus ground in Kolkata. Preparations were in full swing under the guidance of Vision 2020 consultant VVS Laxman and head coach Arun Lal.
Sportskeeda was present at the venue on Friday (December 18) to watch the 25 probables announced by the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) put in the hard yards under the winter sun.
In what is good news for cricket fanatics in West Bengal, star batsman Manoj Tiwary was seen in the Bengal dugout after having missed a major portion of the recently concluded Bengal T20 Challenge owing to a knee injury.
The 35-year-old came padded to the middle net in the morning session, but then removed all his gear and assisted the younger players. On Tiwary’s injury, CAB Director of Cricket Joydeep Mukherjee said the right-hander is still undergoing rehabilitation.
“Manoj Tiwary’s rehab is still going on. Ishan Porel is at the NCA, he will join the camp around 24th or so. Abhimanyu [Easwaran] and everyone else are fit and fine. Manoj has a bit of a niggle in the knee, but it’s work in progress. The physio is taking good care of him, and hopefully he will come through with full fitness,” Mukherjee exclusively told Sportskeeda.
Pacer Ishan Porel, who went to Australia as a net bowler with the Indian team, had to fly back to India in the last week of November after sustaining a hamstring injury. On the other hand, Bengal captain Abhimanyu Easwaran missed the entirety of the Bengal T20 Challenge after testing positive for COVID-19 during the pre-season camp.
'Bengal players will have to get used to bio bubbles,' reckons Joydeep Mukherjee
VVS Laxman was seen in the thick of things on Day 2 of the preparatory camp. The former India batsman first presided over the side nets, and helped the batsmen work on their technique. He then fed them juicy half-volleys as part of their slogging practice in the middle net during the post-lunch session.
The Bengal T20 Challenge served as the perfect platform for the players to shake off their jitters after the cornavirus-enforced lockdown. Former Bengal all-rounder Joydeep Mukherjee acknowledged the same and added that Laxman is providing the final touch to being game-ready.
“Everybody is in full flow, everybody got 10 games, some got 12 games. So nobody is short on match practice or anything. The tournament helped the players sort out all the issues and problems they had," he said.
"VVS Laxman is here, so he is helping them iron out any remaining problem, if any. We are also going to play some matches amongst ourselves,” Mukherjee, who boasts of a first-class batting average of 46.18, exclusively told Sportskeeda.
Bengal players like Shreevats Goswami (Sunrisers Hyderabad), Ishan Porel (Kings XI Punjab), Shahbaz Ahmed (Royal Challengers Bangalore) and Akash Deep (Rajasthan Royals) got the hang of staying in bio-secure bubbles during IPL 2020 earlier this year.
Cricket being played in enclosed surroundings has proved to be detrimental to cricketers’ mental health. Joydeep Mukherjee shed light on the role of the Bengal support staff in taking care of both the physical and mental well-being of the players.
“The players were in the bubble in the T20 Challenge, and then they will be in the bubble again. And if there’s another tournament which BCCI have, then they will be in another bubble. It’s always a difficulty, so that’s why VVS, Arun Lal sir and everybody has a role to play of keeping the players all charged up, making sure the mood in the camp is okay," he said.
“All these guys have been playing for a long time and they are professionals as the Australian team is in Australia for three and a half months. If you are part of the Indian team, you are also out of India for three and a half months. So I think they will have to get used to it,” the 53-year-old elaborated.
Mukherjee was pragmatic enough to accept that the players will be posed with a new challenge when mandatory COVID-19 tests are conducted on January 2, 4 and 6 next year.
“There will be a four-five day period when nobody will be practising because there will be tests and results, tests and results. So that will be a new challenge, but it will be a level playing field for everybody, so no issues,” he stated.
The forthcoming Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy will be played between January 10 and 31 across six bio-hubs in Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Indore and Vadodara. Bengal have been slotted in Elite Group B along with Tamil Nadu, Hyderabad, Jharkhand, Odisha and Assam.
Published 19 Dec 2020, 00:04 IST