Bengal Pro T20 League and ISL final bring hope in the middle of blistering summer

Left: Antonio Lopez Habas and Peter Kratky with ISL trophy. Right: Sourav Ganguly graced the Bengal Pro T20 League Trophy Unveil Ceremony

“I am nervous,” said Snehasish Ganguly, President of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB). In what was a big moment for Bengal cricket, the CAB president was understandably a little anxious. He was making the formal announcement to inaugurate the Bengal Pro T20 league for men and women. As a first in the country, the CAB is hosting the league for both men and women at the same time, and an equal number of franchises are part of both. 

“It was forever an ambition,” said Snehasish. “At CAB, we have always taken women’s cricket with equal passion, and the moment we decided to start the Pro T20 league, we knew we would start both men’s and women’s leagues together. Our brand ambassadors are Jhulan Goswami and Sourav Ganguly.”

The excitement and enthusiasm were palpable. The league, which starts on June 11, will be watched by WPL and IPL scouts alike and encourage Bengal’s homegrown talent to showcase their skills. Bengal cricket required this much-needed fillip and everyone present celebrated the new start. 

“In an IPL final, with 10 to get off 2 balls, there could be a day when a Bengal cricketer scores these runs and not Andre Russell, Rishabh Pant or Henrik Klaasen,” said Sourav Ganguly, who was impressed to see the show put on by the CAB and Arivaa Sports, the company managing the competition. 

Young cricketers who were present on the occasion were all keen to know more about the draft. “It will give us a major opportunity to showcase our skills,” said one of Bengal’s upcoming stars. “The WPL scouts will be here which means this can open doors to the league next year.”

If it was cricket on Friday afternoon, it is all about football on Saturday evening. Mohun Bagan Super Giant v Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) final will be another major moment for Bengal sport. Can the Kolkata giants complete the treble, having already won the Durand Cup and the ISL Shield? If they do, it will be an epochal moment for the sport in Bengal. For a historic final, you need a packed house and that’s what we will get this evening. The demand for tickets is simply unreal, and when I went to the box office a day earlier, there were close to 500 people standing in 42C heat, despite knowing that all tickets were sold out. 

Mohun Bagan fans from across the country will be trooping into Kolkata, and the stage is all set for a grand finale. Under coach Antonio Lopez Habas, Mohun Bagan have enjoyed great success and that’s what has galvanised the fans. On home turf, MBSG start favourites and that’s what will give the 65,000 people their voice. They know that something historic is on the cards. A win, and it will be a season like no other. 

Despite the worst summer in Kolkata, with temperatures hovering around 42C, fans will come out in numbers. For them and for the club, it is a moment of reckoning. A win will give sport in Bengal a serious boost, and MBSG would have cemented their place as India’s most successful football club of recent times. More importantly, the fans will have a voice and sport will once again engender real optimism. With cricket and football on back-to-back days, there is a degree of anticipation around. That’s the best thing to happen in the middle of an otherwise depressing summer, with no rain in sight.

Also Read: KKR break Wankhede jinx, MI officially out of contention