This is Sairaj Bahultule's first assignment with an elite domestic team © AFP
This is Sairaj Bahultule’s first assignment as coach with an elite domestic team © AFP

Sairaj Bahutule, former India and Mumbai all-rounder, recently took over the charge of the Bengal team as the head coach. After his tenures with Vidarbha and Kerala in a similar capacity, this will be his first assignment with an elite domestic team. Bahutule will be travelling with the Bengal squad in their pre-seasonal warm up tour of Sri Lanka. The veteran of two Tests, eight One-Day Internationals (ODI) and 188 First-Class matches talks about his coaching, the future prospects of Bengal team and his visions with Sandipan Banerjee.

After the success of the likes of Sanjay Bangar, Bharat Arun, Sridharan Sriram, the expectations from Indians in coaching are quite high these days. They have done some incredible job with various teams for which they are getting recognised. Sairaj Bahutule, the newly appointed the coach of Bengal, is expected to perform a similar kind of role with the talented but underachieved team.

This is Bahultule’s first assignment with an elite domestic side, having previously coached Vidarbha, Kerala and Mumbai Under-23 teams. Coaching Bengal is one step ahead for him and he is ‘excited’ for this “challenging job”.  He feels Bengal is a “quality side with a lot of talent and potential”. Though it has been “just one week”, the Mumbaikar is working with the Bengal boys, but he is already very optimistic about the current pool of cricketers. For him it is a “Nice mix of young and experienced cricketers” and the team will get the benefit from this mix.

Bahutule acknowledged the contributions of seniors like Manoj Tiwary, Wriddhiman Saha, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Ashok Dinda for Bengal cricket. He is very confident of the prospects of Tiwary and Dinda’s comeback into the national side. “They are the face of Bengal cricket for years now. By playing domestic cricket I am sure they will make a comeback into the Indian team. Apart from that young members of the team, like Abhimanyu Easwaran, Sudip Chatterjee and others can learn a lot from the experience of these seniors. It will eventually contribute to team’s success.” Bahutule was quoted saying.

At the end of this month Bengal team will be travelling to Sri Lanka to play two four-day and three one-day matches. This is part of their preparations for the upcoming Indian domestic season. Talking about this tour, the newly appointed coach said, “The tour will be very crucial for our preparations for the upcoming season. Sri Lankan conditions are pretty similar to ours and we will be playing almost a Sri Lanka A side. Their team has quite a few cricketers who are on the verge of making their debut in international cricket.” READ: Bengal to tour Sri Lanka for pre-season matches

From last couple of seasons, Bengal have used green wickets for their home games. However, this strategy backfired on them at times. So, do they need to rethink about preparing  green tops? According to Bahutule “it is too early to say so.” He feels “We a have very good pace bowlers like Mohammad Shami, Dinda [Ashok], Sourav Sarkar and after having Pragyan Ojha on board, our spin attack is boasted as well. So we can adjust to any kind of pitches.”

Bengal have placed in the Group A of the upcoming Ranji Trophy 2015-16 and they will start their campaign with the defending champion Karnataka at Bangalore. Talking about this upcoming prospect Bahutule said, “If you are playing in the elite group of Ranji Trophy, than every match is tough. I know Bengal are placed in a tough group, but we are confident and determined to do well.”

The former Mumbai captain talked about the importance of “Vision 2020” programme which is a brainchild of Sourav Ganguly. “Sourav has been India’s most successful captain and this idea of asking legends like VVS Laxman, Muttiah Muralitharan to train the young and upcoming cricketers is really admirable.”

(Sandipan Banerjee is a reporter at CricketCountry. Cricket has been the biggest passion for him since his childhood. So, when it came to choosing his career, he chose to turn his passion into his profession. Apart from cricket he likes mountain trekking, river rafting, and photography. His twitter handle is @im_sandipan)