Rohan Prem’s class and experience stood out on what wasn’t an easy day for Kerala as the Ranji Trophy’s new season kicked off. He was coming back to the team after nearly three years and was batting at an unfamiliar position.
Opening the innings, he made 79 (201b, 9x4) to help Kerala avoid some hiccups after choosing to bat against Jharkhand at the JSCA Stadium here on Tuesday. The visitors closed the day at 276 for six.
The score wouldn’t have looked that healthy if not for a fine knock by another comeback man, Akshay Chandran. The all-rounder, whose last match, like Prem’s, was against Nagpur in February 2020, was batting on 39. It was his unbroken seventh-wicket stand of 54 with Sijomon Joseph (28 batting) that calmed the nerves in the dressing room after Kerala lost the wickets of skipper Sanju Samson (72, 108b, 4x4, 7x6) and Jalaj Saxena (nought) within a space of an over.
Earlier, the other Rohan – Kunnummal, who has been one of the most prolific scorers in the domestic game – had made 50 off 71 balls (5x4, 1x6) in his typical fashion. The opening-wicket stand of Rohan and Rohan was worth 90.
After Kunnummal fell lbw to seasoned left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem, Kerala lost another two wickets quickly, including that of debutant Shoun Roger. But Prem and Samson put on 91 for the fifth wicket.
Prem said batting wasn’t easy. “The spinners, Shahbaz and Utkarsh Singh, were bowling well and the bounce was variable,” he told Sportstar. “I think a first-innings score like 350 would be a good one on this track.”
He admitted he was disappointed that he could not be there till the stumps. “But I am happy that I could contribute to the team on my comeback,” he said. Kerala is playing four spinners in this match, besides two seamers.