Kerala beat Rajasthan, Nathu’s efforts go in vain

The 20-year-old Nathu Singh from Jaipur, who has the potential to make it big, removed Rohan Prem in the 16th over just when he was turning dangerous and then a little later sent Raiphy Vincent Gomez and Vinoop Manoharan back to the pavilion.

Rajasthan's fast bowler Nathu Singh who took his maiden four-wicket haul in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy National T20 cricket championship in Kochi on Sunday.   -  Thulasi Kakkat

Just when the Kerala batsman were getting ready to go bang bang in the last few overs, fast bowler Nathu Singh came and virtually quietened them down.

The 20-year-old from Jaipur, who has the potential to make it big, removed Rohan Prem in the 16th over just when he was turning dangerous and then a little later sent Raiphy Vincent Gomez and Vinoop Manoharan back to the pavilion.

Sunday should have been Nathu’s big day in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy National T20 Cricket Championship at the St. Paul’s College ground here. He scooped his maiden four-wicket haul in T20s and Kerala, which was flying high at 100 for three shortly after the 15th over, could manage only 129.

But the host, which was well served by Rohan Prem and his 98-run third-wicket stand with Sanju Samson, fought back hard. It did not allow Rajasthan, which had shocked last year’s runner-up Punjab a day earlier at the Nehru Stadium here, to settle down.

With the score moving slowly — the team had made just 59 losing four wickets by the 11th over — the Rajasthan batsmen were desperate to go for big hits. Working smartly, spinners P. Prasanth, who took three wickets, and Rohan Prem lured the visitors to go for the big ones as the fielders happily took the offer in the deep. Four batsmen perished in this fashion and with V.A. Jagadeesh removing Saturday’s hero Rajesh Bishnoi, Kerala celebrated an 18-run victory and marched to the top of the Group B after its second consecutive victory.

“They say catches win matches…we had worked on our fielding and today, we took all the catches that came our way,” said the Kerala captain Sachin Baby.

“In T20, teams think that 120 and 130 are totals which can be taken easily but if you have good bowling, you can do very well,” he added.

Harbhajan shines

Meanwhile, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who had arrived a day late and missed the opening game, took three wickets as Punjab thrashed Jammu and Kashmir by eight wickets for its first victory.

Mandeep Singh, who hit his second successive half century, and medium-pacer Baltej Singh, who picked three wickets also impressed in Punjab’s easy victory.

Jharkhand, riding on Virat Singh’s 65 and Ishank Jaggi’s unbeaten 75, also posted a comfortable nine-wicket victory over Tripura, in the day’s other match.

>Kerala bt Rajasthan (Full scorecard and ball-by-ball details)

J&K 105 in 19.3 overs (Bandeep Singh 40, Ian Chauhan 39 n.o., Baltej Singh three for 23, Harbhajan Singh three for eight, Gurinder Singh two for 15) lost to Punjab 108 for two in 14.3 overs (Pargat Singh 44, Mandeep Singh 58). J&K 0, Punjab 4(4).

Tripura 146 for seven in 20 overs (R.A. Dey 77, Shahbaz Nadeem three for 18, Prakash Seet two for 21) lost to Jharkhand 150 for one in 18.3 overs (Virat Singh 65, Ishank Jaggi 75 n.o.). Jharkhand 4(4), Tripura 0.