Kolkata: Sourav Ganguly will not feature in Bengal's first two matches of the forthcoming Ranji Trophy season. Ganguly, who opted out of the Bengal team, however, did not rule out playing later in the season, should the situation warrant it. Ganguly, who retired from international cricket in 2008, has continued to play for Bengal on and off, and also played for the Sahara Pune Warriors in the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League in 2012.
"Ganguly will not play the first two matches, but depending on our team's position we may get his services later on," said Sujan Mukherjee, a joint secretary of the Cricket Association of Bengal. "It's a youthful side but we have players with international experience, looking forward to a positive season."
The Bengal team for the start of the season was announced after a meeting in Kalyani that was attended by the selectors and WV Raman, the coach. The meeting was held at the sidelines of the Bengal A v Madhya Pradesh A match.
Manoj Tiwary was named captain of a young team that included one new face in Aritra Chatterjee, the spinner. The team featured several season campaigners including Wriddiman Saha, Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Ashok Dinda.
Ganguly's absence deprives Bengal of its biggest star at a time when senior India players confirmed their availability to other leading states. While VVS Laxman, who retired from international cricket in August, is spearheading Hyderabad's campaign, teams such as Mumbai and Delhi have a full complement of players to choose from at the start of the season.
Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli and Ishant Sharma were named in Delhi's squad while Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan confirmed their availability for Mumbai.
Since his retirement from international cricket Ganguly, 40, has used domestic matches for Bengal as solid practice ahead of the IPL season. Whether his opting out of the Bengal team is a signal that he is unlikely to figure in the Pune Warriors' plans for the 2013 season remains to be seen.
Bengal squad: Manoj Tiwary (captain), Parthasarathi Bhattacharjee, Rohan Banerjee, Jayojit Basu, Writam Porel, Anustup Majumdar, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Iresh Saxena, Ashok Dinda, Sourav Sarkar, Arnab Nandy, Veer Pratap Singh, Subhomoy Das and Aritra Chatterjee