Calcutta: Consistency has been the other name of Laxmi Ratan Shukla for the past two seasons. There's no denying that fact.
Always a handful with the ball, Shukla, of late, has used the willow to an effect as good as any of Bengal's top-order batsmen. The irony is, he was not even considered for Team India probables despite being a major contributor to Bengal's successes in List A matches.
The Lala Amarnath Award for the best all-rounder in domestic limited-overs format for the 2011-12 season has been is only consolation so far. Shukla, however, prefers to look forward. "It's important to get support (for a place in Team India probables), which wasn't there for me. If you ask me, I really don't understand the actual basis of terming a player as veteran.
"If crossing 30 means becoming a veteran, then how does Laxmipathy Balaji make a comeback at the age of 33? Anyway, it's of no use making a fuss because all that matters for me is to continue performing for Bengal," the 31-year-old said after hitting an unbeaten 113, at the Eden, on Monday.
For Shukla, the BCCI award is certainly a special one, but leading Bengal to victory in the remaining matches of the season is his priority.
"Of course, being awarded by the Board motivates a player. But I have to bear in mind that there's a still a long season ahead and I need to keep on performing," he emphasised.
Shukla was all praise for the batsmen. "Manoj (Tiwary) had set the tempo with Subhamoy (Das) and Anustup (Majumdar). It's mainly because of our batters that we are in control at the moment. Besides, our bowlers too were encouraged thereafter to charge in at Gujarat. I'm confident we'll finish with full points from this game."
Captain Tiwary too hailed Shukla as one of the assets. "There cannot be anything better when one's awarded by the BCCI. For sure, Laxmi is a legend. It's terrific to have a player like him in the side. As a captain, I am really proud of him," he signed off.