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Back to where it all began

Bengal coach Paras Mhambrey says he had no qualms about coaching Bengal against his original home team, reports Akshay Sawai.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2007 23:10 IST

The Bengal team landed in Mumbai on Tuesday and encountered its first googly at the hotel where it has been put up. There weren’t enough rooms.

However, the problem was soon sorted out. The team hopes to tackle the challenge presented by Mumbai as well, when the Ranji final begins on Friday. Coach Paras Mhambrey, a former Mumbai and India bowler, feels the task is not beyond the Deep Dasgupta-led team.

“Mumbai are the favourites and have the home advantage but Bengal have been playing good cricket,” Mhambrey said. “We took two points against them at the Eden Gardens. Besides, we’ve played well outside Bengal as well. It’s going to be a good match.”

Mhambrey said he had no qualms about coaching Bengal against his original home team. “My current job is as coach of Bengal. I’m focussed on doing it,” he said. “I can’t get too emotional about my Mumbai connection.”

Asked how much of an impact Sourav Ganguly’s presence would have on the team, Mhambrey said, “A big one. Sourav has all-round skills and will play an important role.”

Sachin as motivation

Mumbai had used music to fire themselves up for the semifinal against Baroda. What would be the motivational tool this time? “With Sachin Tendulkar playing and a packed stadium expected, there’s no need for motivational tools,” captain Amol Muzumdar said.

Asked if Tendulkar had been interacting with the team, Muzumdar said, “He dropped in before we left for Baroda for the semifinal.”

A Bengali newspaper had published a story saying the superstar had decided against playing the final, but both Muzumdar and coach Pravin Amre refuted the suggestion, insisting that Tendulkar was playing.

“As of now, he’s playing,” Amre said. “Our selection chairman (Dilip Vengsarkar) has told us that he’d be playing and I haven’t heard anything to the contrary yet.”

Pitch similar to England Test

Curator Sudhir Naik said that the pitch for the final would be similar to the one used in the India-England Test last March.

“It will be lively initially and will gradually start turning from the third day,” Naik said. The former mentor of Zaheer Khan, who will turn out for Mumbai, said: “Zaheer will enjoy bowling here.”

First Published: Jan 30, 2007 23:10 IST