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  5. Ranji Trophy: Slipped in National team's pecking order, Easwaran's battle begins vs Andhra

Ranji Trophy: Slipped in National team's pecking order, Easwaran's battle begins vs Andhra

An India A regular, Easwaran had a breakthrough 2018-19 season during which he had scored 201 not out against Punjab, 186 against Hyderabad and 183 against Delhi in a praiseworthy fourth-innings chase.

PTI PTI
Kolkata Published on: December 24, 2019 20:16 IST
Ranji Trophy: Slipped in National team's pecking order, Easwaran's battle begins vs Andhra
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Ranji Trophy: Slipped in National team's pecking order, Easwaran's battle begins vs Andhra

Opener Abhimanyu Easwaran will look to get some runs under his belt as he leads Bengal against a steady Andhra in their Ranji Trophy group A fixture on a seam-friendly Eden Gardens wicket beginning Wednesday.

With a much more talented Prithvi Shaw back in the mix, the senior India doors might not just open for Easwaran now.

An India A regular, Easwaran had a breakthrough 2018-19 season during which he had scored 201 not out against Punjab, 186 against Hyderabad and 183 against Delhi in a praiseworthy fourth-innings chase.

However, when one puts Shaw scoring a hundred inside a session and the kind of players that Indian team management currently is looking at, Easwaran might not be in the scheme of things as of now.

In the Indian team's pecking order for openers, there is Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal, who are the current first-choice pair. This is followed by Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul and Shubman Gill (reserve opener for home Tests). This effectively keeps Easwaran at No 6 among the choices with his A-team opening partner Priyank Panchal for company.

Rewarded with the captaincy for the season, Easwaran is yet to come into his own with scores of 4 and 15 in Bengal's eight-wicket win over Kerala in a low-scoring opening fixture in the last round.

"I know I am in good touch. I have confidence to score runs and my gameplan is sorted and I will just try to execute. Batting is not easy initially against the new ball (at Eden Gardens). But I hope to contribute at the top of the order to set a good target. It's a challenge and I would look to overcome it," the Bengal skipper said on the eve of the match.

The Eden wicket has some green tinge and it is likely to help the pacers as Easwaran said they're contemplating of bringing in a fourth seamer.

"Most probably, we will go with four pacers. Spinners won't be much effective on this wicket," he said.

His opening partner Abhishek Raman struck a century, while the seasoned Manoj Tiwary along with new IPL entrant Shahbaz Ahmed struck fifty each to help Bengal to a winning first innings total of 307.

Easwaran and Sudip Chatterjee, who dropped down to number five, both failed in the first innings as the skipper said they would look to make amends.

"Sudip will remain in the middle-order as we would want to bring in some stability there," he said.

Overall, with the game slated for an 8.30 am start the team winning the toss will look to go for bowling looking to make full use of the first half an hour.

Andhra come here on the back of a spirited nine-wicket win over Delhi at home with middle-order batsman Ricky Bhui in stellar form with unbeaten scores of 144 and 100 as he averages an insane 253 from two matches.

"I'm looking forward to play for the first time at the Eden. I was here during the IPL but never got an opportunity. There's a home feeling definitely but I will look to bat with the same focus," Bhui, who originally hails from Jhargram, said.

"Both the teams are in form and Bengal have some big names in Tiwary, Abhimanyu, and Dinda. It will be a good match."

Andhra will also look forward to their skipper Hanuma Vihari superlative performance in West Indies where he played a big role and struck a century in India's Test series win in the West Indies.

Named captain for India A's two first-class games in New Zealand, Vihari has scores of 83, 27 and 38 as he will be eyeing a big knock at the Eden.

In the bowling, Andhra will rely on medium pacer KV Sasikanth who bagged a 10-wicket match haul against Delhi, and left-arm seamer C Stephen who is their leading wicket-taker with 13 to his name.

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