It is a relegation play-off for MP and Bengal

Published: Thursday, December 30, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Kolkata:Beleaguered Bengal and Madhya Pradesh clash in what may be termed a relegation play-off in Elite division group A of the Ranji Trophy cricket tournament beginning here from tomorrow.

Both the teams, who are at the bottom of the eight-team group with only four points from six outings, will be striving for two points from their concluding league fixture to avoid demotion to the less glamorous plate division at the majestic Eden Gardens.

Bengal, who lost each of their four last matches, however, are a rung above Madhya Pradesh, on the strength of having coasted to an outright win against Karnataka in their tourney lung-opener.

A touch of glamour has been added to the match, with Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly responding to an SOS from his state side and deciding to play the crunch tie and rescue Bengal from the ignominy of being nudged out of the premier division.

Bengal have been further bolstered by the inclusion of veteran spinner Utpal Chatterjee, who has come out of retirement to serve his team.

Chatterjee, who decided to call it a day last year, also has a personal milestone beckoning, as he needs only one wicket to complete 500 scalps in first class cricket.

Another good news for the hosts is the return of reliable willower Devang Gandhi, who missed the last few matches due to injury.

Madhya Pradesh, on the other hand, have in their ranks the seasoned campaigner leggie Narendra Hirwani while batting mainstay skipper Amay Khurasia also is a veteran warhorse.

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