It was nothing less than a Diwali bonus for the Bengal Ranji team as former India skipper Sourav Ganguly announced his availability for the entire Ranji season even as the selectors picked a 16-member side for their first two Super League matches, beginning November 3.
Bengal senior selection committee chairman Deep Dasgupta said Ganguly is quite motivated and keen to play all matches for the state team.
"It shows how motivated Ganguly is to play this season. He trains regularly to keep himself in shape and will be available for the entire Ranji Trophy, One-day and T20 matches," Dasgupta said.
"His presence in the dressing room itself will be a big inspiration for the youngsters. We are looking forward to our first match," the former India Test wicketkeeper said.
There were no surprises in the Bengal squad, to be led by Manoj Tiwary with glovesman Wriddhiman Saha as his deputy.
Former skipper and all-rounder Laxmi Ratan Shukla and bowler Ranadeb Bose will lend experience to the side.
Arindam Das, Abhishek Jhunjunwala, Rohan Banerjee and Arindam Ghosh will be Bengal's batting mainstays, while Bose and Ashok Dinda will spearhead the bowling attack.
Veteran off-spinner Saurashish Lahiri and leg-spinner Iresh Saxena will bolster the bowling.
Struggling in Ranji Trophy in the recent past, Bengal's first aim would be to make it to the knockout stage.
"Bengal's biggest challenge won't be the opposition. If we play to our potential we can beat any team on a given day. But the biggest challenge would be ourselves -- to play to our potential," Dasgupta said.
Bengal will take on Gujarat (November 3-6) at Eden Gardens and Madhya Pradesh (November 17-20) at Jadavpur ground in their first two group B encounters.
The Squad: Manoj Tiwary (c), Wriddhiman Saha (vc & wk), Sourav Ganguly, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Arindam Das, Rohan Banerjee, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala, Arindam Ghosh, Partha Sarathi Bhattacharjee, Ranadeb Bose, Ashok Dinda, Mohammad Sami Ahmed, Saurashish Lahiri, Iresh Saxena, Writam Porel, Anirban Gupta.
Stand Byes: Anustup Majumdar, Saurav Sarkar, Arnab Nandy, Dibyendu Chakraborty.
Coach: W V Raman.