Ranji Trophy: Kerala takes crucial innings lead

Kerala was 45 for one at stumps and has an overall lead of 91 runs.

Parvez Rasool tried to resurrect the J&K innings with Bandeep Singh but couldn't prevent Kerala from taking a first innings lead   -  File Photo

Kerala, thanks to its spinners, stayed on course for a possible win by taking a crucial 46-run lead over Jammu & Kashmir on the second day of the Group B Ranji Trophy match at the St. Xavier’s-KCA cricket ground, Thumba, on Thursday.

The home team, however, was made to sweat it out for over an hour this morning as Amar Omar Banday and Shubham Khajuria, resuming at 16 for no loss, defied the home team bowlers while engaging in a fine 82-run partnership.

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But once the pair was separated by left-arm spinner Sijomon Joseph, who had Khajuria (41) caught behind at 82, the home team was quickly back into business. Banday (35) was superbly held at deep point by Akshay off Joseph before Jalaj Saxena, with two quick blows, had the visiting team reeling at 86 for four.

READ: Day 1 report

Parvez Rasool and Bandeep Singh, thereby, was left to resurrect the J&K innings and though the duo did add on 53 runs for the fifth wicket, the exit of the former at 139 for 5 was to turn crucial for the side.

Kerala had its tail up with Akshay too getting into the act by having Asif Khan lbw in the last over before lunch. The young left-arm spinner, making his debut, had a dream day as he returned to capture the remaining three wickets and finish with a haul of four for 37.

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Saxena had a haul of three for 57, while Joseph too finished with three wickets that cost him 45 overs, signalling Kerala’s firm ascendancy. As far as Jammu & Kashmir was concerned, it was a case of a missed opportunity as it lost all ten wickets within a space of 91 runs off just 32 overs.

In its second essay, Kerala once again suffered as Vishnu Vinod, after coming up with some lusty hits, missed the line and was castled by Ram Dayal in the sixth over.

However, Saxena and Rohan Prem stuck together cautiously before rains brought an early end to the day’s play, an over after tea. Kerala was 45 for one at stumps. With an overall lead of 91 runs, it will be pressing hard on resumption of play on the morrow.