Kolkata: Bengal will look to strengthen their batting and exploit the home conditions when they host Madhya Pradesh in a second round Elite Group B Ranji Trophy fixture beginning Monday.
Both the teams have secured three points from their opening match with the help of first-innings leads.
While Bengal drew against Himachal Pradesh at Nadaun, Madhya Pradesh played a drawn match against Tamil Nadu at Dindigul.
In their first match of the season, four Bengal batsmen scored half-centuries including skipper Manoj Tiwary, while three others got out for 40s and the Arun Lal-mentored side would look to convert their starts.
"Fifties and sixties don't really help, you have let the team down and the element of struggle remains. You have given it away after doing 90 per cent hard work," was Lal's message to the team.
Openers Abhishek Raman (48 and 87) and Abhimnayu Easwaran (21 and 76) looked in fine form against Himachal Pradesh but could not convert their starts.
Bengal would want the openers to give a fine start by applying themselves in the tricky first hour when the ball swings and seams on the lively Eden Gardens green-top.
"The ball seams in morning session. For batsmen, if we survive till drinks, you get value for your shots. There're pros and cons," skipper Tiwary said on the eve of the match.
"I'm thinking about scoring a big one, but it's not in my hands. I'm happy with the batting but I need to focus more when I cross 50-60. I will try my best," Tiwary, who got out for 55, added.
On a high after an impressive show for Bengal in the Vijay Hazare Trophy one dayers, Vivek Singh, who scored two half-centuries at a strike rate of 105.64, is likely to make Ranji debut for Bengal.
The 25-year-old left-handed wicket-keeper batsman also doubles up as a right-arm medium pacer but the Bengal skipper said Vivek was included in the squad to "keep wickets".
"He will keep wickets if he plays. But if he does not play Shreevats Goswami will keep wickets," Tiwary said of Vivek who played two Ranji matches for Railways in 2015.
Shreevats Goswami is going through a lean patch. He scored 10 against Himachal Pradesh and managed only 69 runs from four matches in Vijay Hazare and the wicketkeeper-batsman is likely to be axed.
Madhya Pradesh, on the other hand, will bank on their number three Rajat Patidar who scored a career-best 196 in their first innings lead in Tamil Nadu.
"It's all past. I'm trying to be in the present. The first session will be crucial. It's about surviving the first session," Patidar said.
Madhya Pradesh boast of promising young pace duo in Ishwar Pandey and Avesh Khan and they would look to give the team early breakthroughs especially in the first session's play.
"I played here 2-3 years ago. There was not much of bounce then. But now even the side wicket is offering a lot of bounce. The nature of the wicket has changed," said Pandey, who was called-up as a back up in early 2014 for India's tour of New Zealand.
"I'm looking forward to bowl on this wicket. I think 350 will be a par total."
Bengal pace attack will be spearheaded by Ashok Dinda and Ishan Porel as an interesting pace battle will be on the cards.
Bengal: Manoj Tiwary , Abhimanyu Easwaran, Abhishek Raman, Sudip Chatterjee, Anustup Majumdar, Shreevats Goswami, Aamir Gani, B Amit, Pradipta Pramanik, Ashok Dinda, Ishan Porel, Koushik Ghosh, Mukesh Kumar, Vivek Singh, Shahba Ahamad ,Writtick Chatterjee.
Madhya Pradesh: Naman Ojha, Aryaman Birla, Ankit Dane, Rajat Patidar, Shubham Sharma, Yash Dubey, Ankit Sharma, Mihir Hirwani, Avesh Khan, Ishwar Pandey, Kuldeep Sen, Saransh Jain, Venkatesh Iyer, Mohnish Mishra and Gourav Yadav.
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