Veteran batsman Anustup Majumdar was named Bengal captain for the upcoming Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament, replacing Abhimanyu Easwaran.
Shreevats Goswami will be Majumdar’s deputy in the squad that also has Mohammed Shami’s younger brother, seam bowling all-rounder Mohammed Kaif.
Majumdar was rewarded with the captaincy for his stupendous show in the last season where he literally singlehandedly carried Bengal to the final.
The Cricket Association of Bengal however said the 36-year-old Majumdar was appointed “only” for the domestic T20 tournament to free Easwaran of the “captaincy burden”.
The truth is that a defensive batsman like Easwaran is no longer a certainty in the shortest format because of his inability to force the pace of his innings.
He has also slipped considerably in the pecking order of national reckoning after a dismal last season where he failed to get a single half-century.
Easwaran in his debut season as Bengal skipper in 2019-20 led them to their Ranji final but the opener had a pathetic run with the bat, averaging 17.20 from 10 matches with just one half-century.
On the other hand, Majumdar averaged a staggering 58.66, amassing 704 runs from eight matches, second behind Manoj Tiwary (707 from 11 matches) and was instrumental for their runners-up finish last season.
“CAB president Avishek Dalmiya and Hony Secretary Snehasish Ganguly today spoke to Anustup Majumdar, Shreevats Goswami and Abhimanyu Easwaran and made them aware that the decision taken is only for the length of the tournament in question,” the CAB said in a statement on Thursday.
“The selectors felt that without the burden of captaincy over his head Abhimanyu would be able to play more freely and deliver up to his potential,” added the CAB.
Recently, former India batsman VVS Laxman, who is Bengal’s batting consultant, backed Abhimanyu to come good in the Ranji Trophy overcoming his poor form in the last season.
“I don’t think captaincy will affect Abhimanyu Easwaran’s performances at all. I believe additional responsibility is much better,” Laxman had said.
Bengal have been clubbed with Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Odisha, Assam and Hyderabad in Group B and will have the advantage of playing at home in the January 10-31 tournament.
Bengal begin their campaign against Odisha on January 10 here.
Bengal Squad: Anustup Majumdar (captain), Shreevats Goswami (vice-captain), Abhimanyu Easwaran, Manoj Tiwary, Sudi Chatterjee, Ishan Porel, Ritwik Roy Chowdhury, Vivek Singh, Shahbaz Ahmed, Arnab Nandi, Mukesh Kumar, Akash Deep, Abhishek Das, Mohammed Kaif, Aritra Chatterjee, Suvankar Bal, Writtick Chatterjee, Prayas Ray Barman, Kaif Ahmed, Ravi Kant Singh.