Bengal T20 Challenge promises loads of excitement as cricket returns to Eden
In a milestone move, the Cricket Association of Bengal is all set to roll out the maiden edition of Bengal T20 Challenge in the bio-bubble ecosystem of the new normal with six of the top club teams vying for the trophy at Eden Gardens from tomorrow.
The CAB office bearers led by President Avishek Dalmiya and ably supported by Secretary Snehasish Ganguly worked tirelessly for the last 30 days to put this event together setting up elaborate security measures and putting in place detailed Covid protocols ensuring complete safety of the stakeholders of the tournament.
Talking about the Challenge, CAB President Avishek Dalmiya said: “We have worked very hard to put the tournament in place. A series of Covid tests were done to prune out anyone positive. Unfortunately, six people, including five of our players, tested positive. The rest are okay and have been put inside the bio-bubble. This tournament is an opportunity for the youngsters to showcase their talent, while it’s the right meet for the senior pros to show they are still the ones to beat. Psychologically also it is playing a positive impact on the players who have been confined into their houses for the last eight months.”
“Even in the midst of the pandemic we have been able to raise sponsors for the tournament and any surplus will be ploughed back to the welfare of cricket in the state. We are committed to taking Bengal to greater heights,” he added.
CAB Secretary Snehasish Ganguly said: “We have used a wide pool of players that included those from the districts too. This meet is a huge morale booster for the players because for them cricket is their life and being away from the ground for so long was truly demoralizing for them. We have taken all measures possible to ensure that the tournament completes smoothly.”
Unfortunately, five players Abhimanyu Easwaran, Abhishek Raman (both East Bengal), Writtick Chatterjee (Mohun Bagan), Dip Chatterjee (Customs) and Roshan Singh (Tapan Memorial) tested positive during the mandatory testing and have been ruled out. But even with their exclusion the teams looked solid with some big hitters and quality pace-merchant in their ranks.
The teams are buoyant about the prospects. Mohun Bagan is a confident lot with a good mix of players suited for the shortest format of the game. According to Bagan coach Sanjib Goyal, “We Akash Deep and Sayan Ghosh who attended this year’s IPL camps which have obviously boosted their confidence and experience. Our new captain Anustup Majumder has been phenomenal with the bat last season. We also have experienced campaigners like Manoj Tiwary and Debabrata Das. Then there are Prince Yadav, Ankur Pal and Anurag Tiwary to look out for.”
EB lost Easwaran and Raman due to covid, but even in their absence they promise a formidable challenge. Coach Shibsagar Singh is of the opinion that everyone has to contribute for a team to be successful; it’s not about any individual player. “We have a good mix of senior experienced players and young players. Among the young players Sujit Kumar Yadav and Akash Pandey will be a handful along with experienced players like Arnab Nandi, B Amit, Mukesh Kumar and Kanishk Seth”
Kalighat coach Satinder Singh said: “The team is very disciplined and prepared for the tournament. With Subham Chatterjee, Sudip Chatterjee, Pradipta Pramanik, Prinan Dutta, Aamir Gani and Jayojit Basu in the team we have a very good mixture of experience and youth in our team and that is the key for us.”
For Nilambar Saha, Customs Coach: “This is a very young side which is a plus point for us and I believe Customs is also the best fielding side with Shreyan Chakraborty, Sumanta Gupta and Prosenjit Das, who are excellent fielders also. It is a very big opportunity for them and I believe it will give many talented players a boost in their career. It will be very competitive as all the teams are very balanced.”
Town themselves boast of some big hitters and feel they have a fair chance to make an impression in the tournament. Coach Kanchan Maity said: “We have some big hitters and quality bowlers. Having the likes of Ananta Saha, Aritra Chatterjee, Pankaj Shaw and Ayan Bhattacharjee and youngsters like Kazi Junaid Saifi, Sudip Gharami and Golam Mustafa makes us a good mixture of experience and youth.”
Tapan Memorial coach Abhishek Barman feels there is no pressure on their side and they are ready to spring a surprise or two in the meet. “Shahbaz Ahamad who just came back from IPL as a captain gives us a boost. We are a balanced side with good middle order batters and quality all-rounders. Having good all-rounders always benefits a team and Sumit Mohanta, Gaurav Chauhan will strengthen us in that department. Shakir Habib Gandhi, Debapratim Halder, Abhishek Porel and Sourav Chanda will be the ones to look out for. We will put up a stiff challenge to our opposition.”
The meet will see 30 games played in a league format over the course of the next 13 days, with double headers almost everyday at 4pm and 8pm, excepting on Nov 26 when the games will commence at 10 am and 2 pm. Besides, November 28 and Dec 6 will feature triple headers with the third match taking place at 12 noon. The triple headers will also feature the maidan derby between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan scheduled for 4 pm on both the days. The semi-final and final will take place on December 8 and 9.
With all the stakeholder excited over the prospects of live cricket returning to the iconic Eden Gardens, clock’s ticking for the game to resume.
By Ms. Pratyusha Mukherjee, a Senior Journalist working for BBC and other media outlets, also a special contributor to IBG News & IBG NEWS BANGLA. In her illustrated career she has covered many major events.