Ranji Trophy: Kerala gets to the doorstep of victory

Kerala, after being restricted to 191 in its second innings, was sitting pretty after capturing seven Jammu & Kashmir wickets, chasing a target of 238, for a paltry 56 on board.

Parvez Rasool took a five-wicket haul to restrict Kerala, but J&K batted poorly to give the advantage back to Kerala.   -  FILE PHOTO

Kerala got itself to the doorstep of notching up its third win of this Ranji Trophy season with a tremendous fightback at the St. Xavier’s-KCA cricket ground, Thumba, on Friday.

Full Scorecard

On a wicket which has been both teasing and testing for the batsmen of either side right from Day 1, the home side, after being restricted to 191 in its second innings, was sitting pretty after capturing seven Jammu & Kashmir wickets. Chasing a target of 238, J&K was stranded at 56/7 at the end of Day 3.

The third day’s action was definitely one of fluctuating fortunes as Kerala, resuming its second essay at 45 for one, was forced to the back seat almost immediately as the rival skipper Rasool came up with an inspired spell.

MATCH REPORT: Day 1, Day 2

The Jammu & Kashmir captain, with his off-breaks, got rid of Jalaj Saxena and Sanju V. Samson off leg-before decisions and had the Kerala skipper Sachin Baby by Bandeep in the slips.

All this happened only when 21 runs were added to the scoreboard and it the was the timely intervention of Rohan Prem and K.B. Arun Karthick which led the home side back into the path of recovery.

LIVE BLOG: Ranji Trophy, Day 3

The duo shared an invaluable 64-run stand before Karthick (35) was caught by Rasool off Aziz at the stroke of lunch. However, Prem continued to defy the rival bowlers as he found a good ally in Salman Nizar and a further 33 runs was added to the team’s total.

In between, the left-handed batsman was able to get to a fine half-century before he fell due to his own indiscretion. Having resisted the sweep all along, Prem went for one against Bandeep Singh but was bowled round his legs for 58.

This was at 174 and Kerala could only add another 17 runs before being bowled out, Rasool doing the maximum damage with his second five-wicket haul of the match.

Having gained a vital 46-run lead in the first innings, Kerala thus set a target of 238 for its rival.

Basil Thampi and Nidheesh together provided the initial breakthrough and thereafter it was just a procession when the spinners too joined the attack. There was a short stoppage due to a steady drizzle but on resumption, Jammu & Kashmir was further pushed to the brink before bad light stopped play, with 3.3 overs remaining.

Jammu & Kashmir, with just three wickets in hand, faces the daunting task of making 182 runs to stave off defeat.