Ranji Trophy: Kerala can travel beyond semifinal, says skipper Sachin Baby

Coach Dav Whatmore said Sanju Samson’s decision to bat in Kerala’s second innings, with a broken figure, inspired the entire team.

The victorious Kerala Ranji Trophy team poses after entering the semifinal.   -  RANJITH PERALAM

For Sachin Baby, Thursday was the happiest day of his life. Leading Kerala to the semifinals of the Ranji Trophy, for the first time in history, is indeed an achievement he could always be proud of.

“But, I hope I could be even happier on the final day of the semifinal,” he said with a smile, shortly after Kerala’s thumping 113-run victory over Gujarat at the Wayanad Cricket Stadium on Thursday.

“I am particularly glad about the fact that everyone has contributed this season.”

READ: Ranji Trophy Quarterfinal: Kerala scripts historic win to earn maiden semifinal berth

He said he was happy that he and his team-mates became part of history. “This is something we had always wanted to do,” he said.

“We had reached the quarterfinals last year and now we believe we could travel even further.”

His coach Dav Whatmore said Sanju Samson’s decision to bat in Kerala’s second innings, with a broken figure, inspired the entire team.

Kerala’s Star Performers

  • Sandeep Warrier 9 matches, 39 wickets, average 18.33, Best figures (innings/match) five for 27/eight for 72.
  • Basil Thampi 9 matches, 33 wickets, average 22.42, Best figures (innings/match) five for 27/eight for 88.
  • Jalaj Saxena 8 matches, 28 wickets, average 21.25, Best figures (innings/match) eight for 45/nine for 88.
  • 537 runs, average 44.75, two hundreds, two fifties.
  • Sachin Baby 9 matches, 479 runs, 34.21 average, two hundreds, one fifty.
  • P. Rahul 5 matches, 361 runs, average 40.11, one hundred, two fifties.
  • Vishnu Vinod 6 matches, 347 runs, average 38.55 average, one fifty.

“I am also happy with the way Sandeep Warrier came back after his disappointments of last season,” Whatmore said. “And Basil Thampi has adapted himself for the longer format very well, too. It was a fine effort by Sijomon Joseph with bat after he was promoted to the top of the order.”

Thampi said he had worked particularly hard on his bowling. “Working with Glenn McGrath and training in Australia, where I bowled on tracks like this helped me greatly,” he said. “I am also grateful to my captain, who put faith in me and allowed me to bowl longer spells.”

Gujarat’s coach Hitesh Majumdar said Kerala deserved to win.

“They have an excellent pace attack and the bowlers did really well,” he said.

“Batting certainly wasn’t easy on this wicket. Though it wasn’t exactly unplayable, I don’t know how suitable it was for a five-day game. The way Rahul Shah batted in the fourth innings, on his debut, is big positive for us.”