DateLine: 18th April 2009
Laxmi Ratan Shukla made his Ranji Trophy debut for Bengal in the 1997-98 season against Maharashtra. Still in his teens, he rose into prominence soon and made the Indian under-19 team for the Youth World Cup in South Africa in 1998. On his return, he captured the selectors' imagination with his match winning century as an opener for Bengal in the Wills Trophy semi-final against Delhi the next season. But he had a rude awakening to the realities of international cricket when he was plundered for 32 runs in the four overs he bowled at the Sri Lankans on his debut in the Pepsi Cup later that same season. He put up a marginally better performance in his next match against West Indies in the Coca-Cola Singapore Challenge. But after that he has been ignored by the selectors. In early 2000, Shukla was picked as a trainee for the National Cricket Academy. But he had to leave due to injuries. A good middle-order bat and a steady medium-pace bowler, he still has youth in his favour as he will undoubtedly make amends and try and force his way back into the national side.