SS Paul's comeback to the Bengal side makes the pace attack look stronger © Getty Images

Allrounder Laxmi Ratan Shukla, who came back to Indian domestic cricket after having joined Indian Cricket League (ICL), will lead Bengal in the coming Ranji season. Apart from Shukla, six others - including captain Deep Dasgupta and Rohan Gavaskar - had joined ICL in August. The captaincy was always a toss-up between Shukla and Manoj Tiwary, but Tiwary's likelihood of being picked for India sometime later in the season might have been the deciding factor. Saurashish Lahiri, offspinner and handy lower-order batsman, has been named vice-captain.

In the absence of Dasgupta, Gavaskar, Abhishek Jhujhunwala and Subhomoy Das, the batting line-up looks depleted, with heavy reliance on Tiwary and Shukla. Uncapped Wriddhiman Saha, 23, will take Dasgupta's place behind the stumps. The pace-bowling department looks strong with SS Paul likely to make a comeback and add to the already impressive trio of Ranadeb Bose, Ashok Dinda and Sourav Sarkar. Paul had missed the entire last Ranji Trophy to injury, but played the Ranji one-dayers. Lahiri will be joined by the 31-year-old left-arm spinner Murtaza Lodhgar, who last played a first-class match in 2004-05, as the second spinner.

The squad has been picked only for the first two Ranji games, against Hyderabad and Baroda. Bengal start their first match on November 4 at Eden Gardens, as opposed to the slated overall season start of November 3, because the Indian senior team will be training at the Eden Gardens till November 3.

Squad: Laxmi Ratan Shukla (capt), Arindam Das, Amitava Chakraborty; Anustup Majumdar, Manoj Tiwary, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Kamal Hasan Mondal, Safi Ahmed, Ranadeb Bose, Shib Sankar Paul, Sourav Sarkar, Ashok Dinda, Saurasish Lahiri, Murtaza Lodhgar