The gymnast is wishing for a perfect 10.
The odds are stacked up against Bengal in the Ranji Trophy final against Mumbai. But Deep Dasgupta, the Bengal skipper who learnt gymnastics as a boy, is hoping that his team does well in the contest, which begins at the Wankhede Stadium from Friday.
“Both teams will be at full strength, you could say that the top two sides in domestic cricket are taking each other on,” Dasgupta, who enjoyed a stint with the Indian team in 2001-02, said. “This is a real Ranji Trophy final.”
The 29-year-old wicket-keeper batsman said that Bengal’s success - this is the team’s second consecutive entry to the Ranji final — was a fruit of hard labour. “We’ve worked hard and that’s why we are getting the results. We aim to keep doing that. Yes, Bombay have big names. But at the end of the day it’s about which team bats and bowls well.”
Having arrived in Mumbai on Tuesday evening, Bengal had their first net practice on Wednesday morning. It was a long session, starting at 9.30 and finishing past 1’o’clock. No wonder that once back in the dressing room, the players heaped their plates with food.
“It was a good session, it helped us get a feel of the conditions,” Dasgupta said. “Having said that, we played here just last season. In fact some of us have played here a couple of times. So we have an idea of the way the ground plays.”
He said the wicket appeared a typical Wankhede track. “It looks firm and will offer bounce early on, some movement too.”
Dasgupta, who batted at No.7 and No. 6 in the semifinal against Karnataka, has scored 284 runs from seven matches for Bengal this season at an average of 35.50. Behind the stumps, he has taken 24 catches. “I’m happy with my form, I’ve scored runs when the team needed them,” he said.
Dasgupta said Sourav Ganguly’s presence in the Bengal line-up and his international comeback was a source of motivation for the team.
“The way Sourav has turned things around is inspiring,” Dasgupta said. “Nobody gave him a chance eight or nine months ago.”
Asked if Ganguly was too wrapped up in himself to worry about the team, Dasgupta replied, “No. If he had stuff of his own to do, he would do it after the team’s engagements. He spent time with teammates. In the first game, he even led the side. He’s been a help.”
What about Rohan Gavaskar’s contribution?
“Big,” said Dasgupta. “He’s been with us for eight or nine years. Apart from being a consistent performer (287 runs in nine innings at an average of 35.87 this season) he’s a thinking cricketer. So his input is always valuable.”
Dasgupta also doffed his hat to the team’s younger players. Batsmen Manoj Tiwary (21) and Abhishek Jhunjhunwala (24) and bowlers Sourav Sarkar (22) and Ashok Dinda (22) have been instrumental in Bengal’s march to the final. Of course, from a statistical point of view, it is the slightly older Ranadeb Bose who has shone for Bengal.
The 27-year-old fast bowler, denied a place among the World Cup probables, has taken a jaw-dropping 48 wickets this season. It’s the highest not just for Bengal but also the tournament.