Kolkata, Nov 16: Captain Manoj Tiwary and pace spearhead Ashok Dinda will be firing on all cylinders as hosts Bengal take on a young Gujarat side led by Parthiv Patel in a third round Ranji Trophy encounter at the Eden Gardens from tomorrow.
While Bengal were thrashed by Punjab in their last group league match in Mohali, Gujarat could only manage a point against Saurashtra in a run-feast at Surat.
On a sporting Eden Gardens track that offers substancial help to the seamers, the good news for Bengal will be the return of fast bowler Shami Ahmed who was ruled out during the first two games due to side strain.
The Shami-Dinda combination is the fastest among the domestic new ball pairs in the country and have the ability to rattle any oppositon with raw pace.
It will be interesting to see how the Bengal pace trio of Shami, Dinda and Sourav Sarkar tackle a batting line-up that has domestic run-machine Parthiv, seasoned Y Venugopal Rao and Manpreet Juneja who scored a double century on his first-class debut last season.
However Bengal's main problem over the years has been batting. Save Manoj Tiwary and to a certain extent Wriddhiman Saha, none of the other Bengal batsmen have been able to show consistency that is required to win a national championship.
While Wriddhiman has scored four consecutive first-class half centuries in four innings, Manoj's slight dip in form is a worry for the home team as it is largely dependant on the form of its skipper.
For Manoj, a big score is also important because the Bengal batsman needs to score more than his immediate competitor Rohit Sharma in order to atleast cement a place in the ODI scheme of things.
Middle-order batsman Anustup Majumdar has been badly exposed after a good first season as the bowlers seemed to have sorted him out and he hasn't got a good score till now.
The home team will also hope that veteran all-rounder Laxmi Ratan Shukla comes good like he did in the previous game and whenever Shukla has done well, Bengal has held the upperhand over their opposition.
Ranji Trophy 2012-13 third round fixtures (November 17 to 20)
Group A: Rajasthan Vs Madhya Pradesh; Hyderabad Vs Saurashtra; Railways Vs Punjab; Bengal Vs Gujarat
Group B: Tamil Nadu Vs Maharashtra; Haryana Vs Odisha; Uttar Pradesh Vs Karnataka; Delhi Vs Baroda
Group C: Himachal Pradesh Vs Andhra; Kerala Vs Assam; Tripura Vs Services; Jharkhand Vs Goa