Services collapsed spectacularly as Jalaj Saxena spun a web of deceit to power Kerala to a 204-run win in the Ranji Trophy cricket match at the KCA-St. Xavier’s College ground here on Friday.
The fourth-day track offered generous help to Jalaj who bowled with control and guile to finish with career-best figures of eight for 36 and in the process took 400 first-class wickets.
AS IT HAPPENDED: RANJI TROPHY ROUND 5, DAY 4
The Services batters didn’t have the patience nor did they show the application needed to counter the turning ball and succumbed to pressure created by Jalaj. The off-spinner varied his pace and found bounce and turn to fox the batters.
But things looked very positive for Services when it reached 61 for no loss as both openers S.G. Rohilla and Sufiyan Alam comfortably negotiated the opening spells from Kerala medium pacers. The slide started when Rohilla (28) top-edged a sweep from off-spinner Vaisakh and was caught in the covers by substitute Shoun Roger.
Jalaj took his first wicket when Ravi Chauhan (7) played back and missed the ball that hurried to him. Services then lost three quick wickets to slip to 98 for five. The clueless Rahul Singh padded up to Jalaj and was plump in front while captain Rajat Paliwal was adjudged caught by Salman Nizar at short leg. The calamitous run out of Sufiyan Alam, who had batted solidly for 52, ended whatever little chance Services had to save the contest.
Jalaj took his fifth wicket when wicketkeeper L.S. Kumar was bowled by a ball which hastened off the pitch. M.S.Rathee and Arpit Guleria threw away their wickets by playing wild shots against Jalaj. It was all over when Jalaj trapped P.S.Poonia in front as the batter tried a reverse sweep.
Kerala coach Tinu Youhannan was happy with the win and said the first innings total of 327 made a huge difference in the contest. He also showered praise on senior cricketers Jalaj Saxena and Sachin Baby for taking responsibility and coming up with crucial performances when the team needed it. “After losing to Goa we needed this win. The first innings score made a huge difference. No words to say about Jalaj who has been superb for us. Both Jalaj and Sachin took the responsibility and came up with performances that counted,’‘ he said.
Rajesh Tiwari, the services coach, was disappointed and blamed the batters for not showing the required application. ``We played for a win but our batters didn’t show the right attitude and application that was needed on this pitch. Losing captain Rajat Paliwal to a poor decision was crucial but such things happen. Jalaj was superb and bowled well in the right areas. We will be playing our next match at home and we hope to do well,’‘ he said.