Bengal's bowling coach, Ranadeb Bose, was in the XI when Bengal last played in a Ranji Trophy final, in 2007. Ahead of day four of the semi-final Karnataka, even with his side well in front in the game, Bose couldn't find any sleep.

"As a bowling coach you have sleepless nights," he said. "When you're defending 350 odd, 98 for 3 and Manish Pandey and Padikkal are batting, obviously you have sleepless nights.

"At two-o-clock in the morning I was checking - last time they scored 250-odd runs to win an outright game, so I thought okay, we still have about 250 on the board and they have seven wickets, so there's a chance."

The fact is that no team has made more than 250 against Bengal this season, but his nervous energy was justified. A finals spot is a big deal, and has been long missing from Bengal cricket.

Bose was among many former and current Bengal players on the sidelines at Eden Gardens as an overwhelmingly celebratory atmosphere took over the stadium after Bengal's crushing win. It had begun with the crowd, largely made up of children from various schools, cheering as all of Karnataka's remaining specialist batsmen were dismissed within an hour of play on the morning. And while only two sections were open to the public, the Bengal team gave them a shortened victory lap, even collecting themselves at one point and sprinting towards the crowd before taking a leap for them.

Not long after, the dugout region was swarmed, with a mix of journalists, cameramen, well-wishers, commentators, and administrators that might have come close to matching the crowd number in one section. If you were a part of the Bengal team in any capacity, you suddenly had more media engagements than you would have had all season.

Subtlety is rarely an expectation when you come to Eden Gardens, but even by those standards this post-match atmosphere was positively surprising. The reason was fairly simple - Bengal's last Ranji title came in the 1989-90 season and with their current form, the drought could finally end.

"We worked really hard," Bose said. "We practiced day in, day out. We even practiced on a clay turf, while it was raining, with synthetic balls. We've gone crazy this year. Worked really hard - gym, long distance running, short distance running. The trainer has done a really good job."

The coach and mentor Arun Lal also attested to this, and said the bowling side at his disposal is the best in India at the moment, which makes them favourites - an opinion he had maintained throughout the game.

"There is no question about it," Lal said. "In my eyes, we are favourites. I genuinely believe we have got a fabulous group of boys. And yet I say we are playing below our potential. God help the opposition when we get everything right.

"We started first of July [last year]. We worked on running 25 rounds [of Eden Gardens]. Madness. Madness kind of training we did for two months, non-stop. It was a conscious effort to build up belief, physicality, body language, strength, power, fitness. Everything."

The endurance derived from such exercises has been clear throughout the season. With two league stage games left - against Rajasthan and Punjab - Bengal were already in knockout situations. In both those games, they found themselves in dubious positions, but managed to pick up the required points - chasing more than 300 on one occasion, and defending just over 200 on a pitch where their premier fast-bowling line-up wouldn't have been as effective as elsewhere.

They maintained their form in the quarter-final and semi-final as well. The hallmark of many a Ranji winning team has been comebacks, and Bengal now have four on the trot. In a season where their top-order batting has been objectively below-par on a consistent basis, they have managed to find ways to put away the lopsidedness.

"What has happened is we have come out of impossible situations.," Lal said. "The first day didn't go well and you feel the match is gone - from there we have come back and it really brings team spirit up. Somebody is bailing you out, whoever it might be. Then that really knits the team together. It's much better preparation, what we've had, than if we had dominated every game."

For Bose, who was with CAB's flagship grassroots and youth development project, Vision 2020, for more than five years, the process has played out right in front of his eyes. It was in one of those camps, for instance, that he spotted Mukesh Kumar, who was the hero on Tuesday and a vital cog of Bengal's superlative fast bowling trio this season.

The remarkable turn of form in the late stages could also change the conversation behind the scenes about Bengal's cricketing structure, which for a long time has seemed to insiders and people around the game like it has stagnated. The batting hero of the quarter-final and semi-final rounds, Anustup Majumdar, for instance, will soon be 36 and was jettisoned into the XI a fair way after the season began. Ostensibly, this doesn't say much about the bench strength but seasons like this could change things dramatically, as it had for Karnataka at the turn of the last decade.

Barring Nilkantha Das, who debuted this season as a 30-year-old, the core of Bengal's bowling line-up is a young one. With a few additions on the batting front, there could be a squad here that could dominate similarly for a few years. For one, they will have the 24-year-old Abhimanyu Easwaran as captain. After a lot of perception battles for being a migrant into the Bengal system, Easwaran has led Bengal into the final in his very first season.

"What Bengal needed was his work ethic. At this juncture, where we were faltering last year, there was no better man for the job than him," Lal said of Easwaran. "His example, his work ethic, his belief. Look at him fielding. Look at the pace. Look at the work he puts behind everything. And look at the desire, and the love for the game. Those are the things we want in a leader, so that we can follow. And when he came first time, I said we've got a terrific young man, and we're all wiling to follow. Including me. Your energy, your desire, your work ethic, your everything - we'll follow, you just lead. That's what he's done."

In many ways, the campaign has needed similar fighting spirit to the 2006-07 season, a phase prior to which Bengal had been battling relegation. Deep Dasgupta, who was the captain of that team, recalled what it had felt like to lead Bengal into a final.

"It was huge," Dasgupta said. "The year before that, we were one game away from relegation. But it was more of a process. You don't try and think about playing the final or semi-final, because that's not something you've done through the season. Right through the season you are focused on the process, about doing those one-percenters right, taking one session at a time. And that's how I thought about it, and I would only suggest or advice to do the same."

And despite the undercurrents of pride and joy, it is likely that is exactly what Bengal will revert to. Throughout the season, they have been positive during internal discussions. But the conscious end goal has never been winning, just a commitment to doing their jobs.

"Lal ji is not talking about winning Ranji Trophy," Bose said. "Obviously it's in our hearts, on our minds, we're all thinking about it. But today also he said it's not about winning the game but about doing your job. And that is what is making the difference. We don't have the pressure of winning games. We have the pressure of executing our plans, that's all.

"I always think the process is important. The discipline is important If we can do that, not fly high, keep our feet on the ground - which we're going to do, Lal ji is going to come with a bamboo and say "okay, neeche aa jao sab. Aur kaam karte hai" (Everybody come down, and we'll get more work done). He'll let us enjoy, today and tomorrow probably. And then settle down. Probably we travel day after and get into the mode."

And before they do, they will sleep well.