Bengal to explore IPL market for new coach; Arun Lal to be relieved

The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) is considering tapping into the IPL market to appoint a new coach for the Bengal senior team for next season as the incumbent, Arun Lal, will be relieved of his duties. The CAB is said to be reflecting on the change after Bengal’s defeat to Madhya Pradesh in this season’s Ranji Trophy semi-final.

Bengal played the final of the Ranji Trophy in 2019-20 led by Lal and this season they qualified for the semi-final on the heels of a world record batting performance against Jharkhand, where nine batsmen scored half a century in an innings. However, the team’s batting save for the hundreds of Manoj Tiwary and Shahbaz Ahmed in the first innings imploded against MP. There is respect for Lal, 66, in the Bangladesh cricket club, but there is also a feeling that the team needs a new direction under a younger coach.

    Arun Lalic Bangladeshi players, along with coach Arun Lal second from left. (Twitter/CAB Cricket)

According to a CAB insider, the state association was eager to appoint Wasim Jaffer and the former Mumbai and India opener was called. But Jaffer is already in charge of the Bangladesh U-19 team and will not be available. Former Bangladeshi and Indian all-rounder Laxmi Ratan Shukla, who coaches the Bangladeshi U-23, is eligible, but at the moment he is not the first choice.

“The idea is to appoint a coach who will develop our players to the next level so that they can knock on the door of the Indian team. It must be a continuous process. Of course it’s important to win the Ranji trophy, but this is also very important,” a CAB official told The Indian Express. The CAB wants a coach who is also in charge of hitting the team. “If a coach can take care of the batting of the team, we don’t have to appoint a batting coach separately,” said the official.

There is no embargo on coaching a state team and being part of the coaching lineup of an IPL franchise. Sairaj Bahutule and Amol Muzumdar have coached Gujarat and Mumbai respectively while they were part of the Rajasthan Royals coaching lineup. Their contracts with the respective state unions gave them two months to be part of the T20 competition. The CAB thinks along the same lines, although a shortlist has not yet been drawn up.

chandrakant pandit Chandrakant Pandit coached Vidarbha to their first Ranji title. (BCCI photo)

Admiration for Pandit

Sources said the Bangladesh cricket hierarchy admires Chandrakant Pandit’s work in the domestic circuit. The former wicketkeeper batsman from Mumbai and India has led MP to the final of the Ranji Trophy this season, having presided over Vidarbha’s consecutive titles. But there are fears that Pandit’s management style is a bit old-fashioned – he prefers a hard-hitting approach – and may not be suitable for larger teams. In high-profile locker rooms, man management is becoming the most important factor.

It has been learned that the CAB is not averse to making a foreign appointment, if someone like Andy Flower becomes available. At the moment, however, that’s just a backup plan and a bit far-fetched.

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