: Sairaj Bahutule. (Image Source: IANS).. Image Source: IANS

Kolkata, Oct 24 : Under-fire Bengal coach Sairaj Bahutule on Wednesday said he respects Cricket Association of Bengal's (CAB) decision to appoint Arun Lal as the mentor of the Bengal team, sweeping under the carpet talks of any rift between him and the players.

Former India opener and Bengal skipper Lal was on Tuesday roped in as the mentor, in a move that put Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary and Bahutule virtually on notice after a dismal performance in the recently-concluded Vijay Hazare Trophy (50-over) meet.

CAB president and former India captain Sourav Ganguly had stated that a decision on whether to continue with Bahutule as the coach and Tiwary as skipper will be taken after Bengal's first two Ranji Trophy matches.

"I respect CAB's decision. I enjoy working hard and this is a really good team I have. There are some extremely talented players. I want to continue working with them for the next two games and give my best," Bahutule told reporters at the Eden Gardens.

"Personally, everything has been fine. When you ask about dressing room atmosphere and all that...last three years I have been with the team. I am surprised when things are spoken about to be very honest. I try to keep this team together," said Bahutule who was appointed as coach in 2015.

The 45-year-old former India leg-spinner was not present during Bengal Ranji Trophy team probables' preparation camp that began at the Jadavpur University second campus ground under CAB Vision 2020 consultant V.V.S. Laxman on Monday.

"I was told since the Vision 2020 camp is on, so I can join late when the Bengal team starts full fledged practice," he reasoned when asked why he joined late.

Hailing Lal's appointment as the team mentor, Bahutule also said he will speak to the players once again to iron out any differences if at all it is there.

"I am extremely happy about that. He has been a fantastic cricketer himself, he is well respected. He has a lot of experience. His interaction will help the boys. It's a fantastic effort to appoint him in as the mentor."
"I would like to know the players who said they have a problem in the dressing room or with me. It has come to me as a big surprise as I interact with all of them one on one a lot and I don't know anything of that sort. I am sure they understand me and I need to talk to them."
Lal, who represented India in 16 Tests and 13 ODIs, is a known face on TV as a cricket commentator and successfully battled jaw cancer recently.

He was part of the Ranji Trophy winning team in the 1989-90 season when Bengal won the title after 51 years.

Bengal take on Himachal Pradesh in an away Ranji fixture in their opening tie before playing Madhya Pradesh at home. The team is supposed to leave base on October 29.

The team and the support staff for the first two Ranji Trophy matches will be selected on October 26.

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