Bengal’s administration is particularly interested in fast-tracking U-19 India pacer Ravi Kumar in the next Ranji Trophy, which begins on February 16 in Cuttack.
Ravi, a left-arm seamer from Odisha’s Rayagada area, has impressed all with his skill and impressive show of bowling during the U-19 World Cup, which is currently being held in the Caribbean. He played a pivotal role in helping India secure their spot in the finals as he claimed three wickets for 14 runs on Saturday to help India beat Bangladesh by five wickets, a victory that ensured India’s entry into the U-19 World Cup semifinals.
If the senior state selectors and team management decide to include Ravi in the senior squad, former India opener and current Bengal U-19 head coach Devang Gandhi, who had guided the junior team to the Cooch Behar Trophy quarter-finals, supported the notion.
“Nothing gives any coach more satisfaction than seeing their wards make it to the elite level. That’s what as coaches we aspire for — to guide the talented boys in the right direction. No one would be happier than me if both Ravi and Abhishek Porel, (who is also in the West Indies as stand-by) make it to Ranji squad,” Devang told PTI.
While the BCCI has yet to release the dates for the U-19 national quarterfinals, Gandhi believes that, as much as he would like to see them on the younger squad, the goal is to see them prepare for the more difficult difficulties ahead.
“I would love to have them quarter-finals as and when they are held. But for their growth and betterment, they should quickly progress to the next level. For Ravi, I can say, that he is a very hard working boy and in years, you will see him add a few yards of pace with his natural ability to swing it back in,” Devang said.
Ravi adds variation to any bowling assault by being a left-arm seamer who can get the ball to dart in, as has been observed in his actions.
“Yes, there is a bright possibility that Ravi after his performances in the U-19 World Cup will be included in the Bengal senior team. We need to groom them and catch them young.
“With BCCI not scheduling any U-25 tourney (Bengal A) as of now, Ravi needs to be nurtured with care. Obviously, it’s a selector’s call but both head coach Arun Lal and coach Saurasish Lahiri are keeping a close watch on Ravi.
“Even if he doesn’t make it to the first XI in presence of Akash Deep, Ishan Porel and Mukesh Kumar, who knows there could be a chance just round the corner,” a source close to Bengal team management said.
Another update on the Ranji Trophy says that Wriddhiman Saha, the experienced keeper-batter, is expected to be ready for at least the first game, if not both, in the Ranji Trophy before joining the India team’s bio-bubble in Mohali for the first Test, which is provisionally slated for March 4. Bengal will go to Cuttack on February 10 with two U-19 World Cup players, Ravi and left-handed batter-keeper Abhishek Porel, to compete in Elite Group B against Chandigarh, Hyderabad, and Baroda.
Meanwhile, the Indian team has been phenomenal in the ongoing U-19 World Cup. They pulled off a heist against Australia in Wednesday’s (February 2) game as captain Yash Dhull guided the team towards victory, courtesy of his ton and a double-century stand alongside deputy Shaik Rashid, which helped the team register a 96-run win. With that victory, the team has entered their fourth consecutive final and will square off against England for the title at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua and Barbuda on February 5.