Kerala thumps Jharkhand by nine wickets

The win, which provided a brilliant start to the season for Kerala, fetched it six points after Jharkhand, already 57 runs in arrears, collapsed for a rueful 89 in its second essay.

Kerala's Jalaj Saxena sizzled with a five-wicket haul against Jharkhand.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Kerala was home and dry, stamping its class over its Ranji Trophy Group B rival Jharkhand with a rousing nine-wicket win at the Kariyavattom Sports Hub on Sunday.

The win, which provided a brilliant start to the season for the home side and fetched it six points, came about 52 minutes left for tea after Jharkhand, already 57 runs in arrears, collapsed for a rueful 89 in its second essay. Left to score 33, Kerala cantered home in five overs for the loss of Jalaj Saxena.

Kerala, resuming its first innings at 250 for eight, hardly could add much to its total as Ashish Kumar orchestrated the end by picking up the wickets of M.D. Nidheesh (9) and last man Sandeep Warrier (0) inside of five overs. The only bright spot then was the completion of a well-crafted half-century by Saxena who remained unconquered on 54.

READ: Delhi takes control over Assam

But then, Jharkhand already under pressure could hardly do anything to keep up its reputation as one of the last year’s semifinalists. The slide was visible right from the start as Babul Kumar was send off by Sandeep Warrier for 2 and one-drop Mohammed Nazim Siddiqui found himself castled by Saxena. 

Ishan Kishan, the other opener, and Virat Singh seemed to prosper for a while as they stuck together in an attempt to lift their side out of the ruins. But with Saxena and left-arm spinner Monish putting up pressure, both the batsmen whittled at the same score of 37.

Jharkhand lost another wicket as Monish, who had a great day, got rid of the dangerous Ishank Jaggi for the addition of four runs, leaving the visitors tottering at 50 for five in 28 overs at lunch. The break brought no respite for Jharkhand as it lost the remaining five wickets in just 13.1 overs as Saxena, after his early two breakthroughs, came back to wipe off the tail and another five wicket haul (five for 27) and match figures of 11 for 77. Monish finished with four for 42.

Saxena, however, was bowled for a duck in the third over by Quadri and though this denied Kerala the bonus point, there was no stopping it from completing the formalities within the next two overs.

Brief scores

Jharkhand 1st innings: 202

Kerala 1st innings: 259

Jharkhand 2nd innings: 89 (Saurabh Tiwary 26 not out, Jalaj Saxena 5/27, Monish 4/42)

Kerala 2nd innings: 34/1 in 5 overs (K.B. Arun Karthik 27 not out).