Bengal v Railways, Ranji Trophy quarter-finals, Kolkata, 5th day January 12, 2014

Shukla lauds 'champions' of Bengal

Shukla: I had said at the start that this would be a tough match, but we were desperate to win © Abhijit Addya

As Laxmi Shukla sat down for the post-match press conference, he put his arms around Ashok Dinda and Wriddhiman Saha, who were seated either side of him and declared: "The two champions of Bengal."

The camaraderie in the side that had just beaten Railways to enter their first semi-final since 2006-07, when they were the runners-up, was easy to see and, given the impact they had on the match, Shukla's statement seemed justified. Dinda took eight wickets in the match, including a six-for in the first innings, and scored some useful runs lower down the order. Saha, meanwhile, played two important knocks of 87 and 81 to help Bengal post totals that were, on both occasions, out of reach for Railways. Saha was also named Man of the Match for his efforts.

"They are the senior players and they delivered under pressure," Shukla said. "The way Dinda and Sourav Sarkar partnered together, the way Wriddhi played in the second innings. It was a convincing win and we did the small things well."

Shukla also heaped praise on Railways, saying the close nature of the game was a measure of the opposition Bengal faced. "All the games went to four days, but ours went into five," Shukla said. "Credit to Railways. They topped our group and were a superb team. I had said at the start that this would be a tough match, but we were desperate to win. We have nothing to look back at. We have lost so much. We had a good team but did badly in the last few seasons. I am not too happy, but happy enough to make the semis. We have a long way to go and a lot to do."

Dinda, who was wildly cheered by a large crowd just outside the entrance of the stadium, said he was happy with the win, Bengal's third in three matches, and hoped the team would go on to win the remaining two.

Saha, whose fifties and lower-order partnerships rescued Bengal in critical situations, said he was spurred by the aim to do well in the tournament. "I want to do well, very well," Saha said. "The idea is to build partnerships - 10s and 20s. The lower order also batted well in this match. Dinda, Maco [SS Paul] and Sarkar were outstanding in the last spell and today."

Both Shukla and Saha also credited Ashok Malhotra for his inputs as coach. Malhotra was appointed coach earlier this year after WV Raman resigned. "Paaji [Malhotra] inspires us a lot," Shukla said. "Even if someone is unwell, he inspires him. I am not going to compare him with previous coaches, but Paaji is an inspiration to us. He has played such great cricket too. We have tried to do well and we have succeeded, but we have a long way to go."

When asked what he thought about the possibility of Mohammed Shami and Saha's inclusion in India's XI on the New Zealand tour, Shukla said: "This is not an achievement, this is our passion. I have said before that I don't want to see Wriddhi and Dinda and Shami in the dressing room. I want to see them playing for India. The more they play for India, the more proud we will feel."

Rachna Shetty is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ESPN on January 14, 2014, 5:45 GMT

    LRS needs a DRS that whether we can get an all-rounder of his calibre-for BCCI

  • Deccan on January 13, 2014, 13:28 GMT

    congrats to bengal team - from a bangladesh supporter

  • Dummy4 on January 13, 2014, 11:42 GMT

    I must appreciate the Bengal Team for their fighting spirit. A team without star studded status had performed very well and I wish this Team should Win the Coveted Trophy this year. Best of Luck Bengal

  • Subramani on January 13, 2014, 7:55 GMT

    While I congratulate Bengal for having beaten Railways in the quarter final, I wish they would not treat this as the final. They have two more games to win if they are going to be the Ranji Champs of this year.There is no question that Shukla, a batchmate of Harbhajan I think is a spirited customer and should have been playing in the shorter formats at least. I am sure he would have done well if he had been given as many chances as the others.

  • Dummy4 on January 13, 2014, 7:34 GMT

    Laxmi Shukla is a whole-hearted player! He deserved more than what he got! Wish he could have played more matches for India! All The Best for Semis Bengal and Shukla! Hope you'll do very well!

  • Dummy4 on January 12, 2014, 17:08 GMT

    He would have been a match winner for India I have believed this for years and he can still be that. Take Shukla into the Indian team. Pleading to the selectors this has been sheer injustuce for years.

  • Dummy4 on January 12, 2014, 16:15 GMT

    Laxmi Shukla should have played at least 50 ODIs for India, and at least a few tests in places like England and New Zealand. He has the heart of a champion!

  • Dummy4 on January 12, 2014, 15:53 GMT

    Take this bengal captain , in indian team,- Shukla - i can tell for sure he will not disappoint you.

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