The wicket certainly isn’t the fastest the PCA Stadium has seen for some time. But, Siddarth Kaul, with significant help from the Kerala batsmen, ensured the toss his captain Mandeep Singh won wasn’t wasted at all.
The seamer’s second six-wicket haul of the season not only helped Punjab take the honours on day one, but also handed it a firm grip of the Ranji Trophy Group B match.
Sitting pretty, indeed!
After bowling Kerala out for just 121, the host managed to take a first-innings lead of 14, with eight wickets still intact, before stumps were drawn on an extremely cold Sunday.
With opener Jiwanjot Singh (67 batting) and Mandeep (41 batting) looking in good touch, the home team must already be dreaming of forcing what would be only its second win.
As for Kerala, some of its batsmen might have nightmares about their dismissals.
As it happened: Ranji Trophy Round 8, Day 1
It had started rather well, though, with openers P. Rahul and Arun Karthik stroking the ball well as they put on 38 runs inside 13 overs. But Kaul, who changed ends after a two-over spell, trapped Rahul lbw to end Kerala’s promising beginning.
In the very next over, Karthik also fell in similar fashion to Baltej Singh. Immediately, it was another over and another lbw, as Mohammed Azharuddeen began his long way back.
Ball of the day
Sanju Samson, Kerala’s most accomplished batsman, didn’t last long either, but he got the ball of the day from Kaul. It swung in massively to remove the off bail after the batsman had decided to shoulder arms.
Kerala still had some hopes of a decent first innings score, until Jalaj Saxena slashed Kaul straight to Yuvraj Singh at backward point. The horror story continued till lunch arrived at 88 for seven.
After the break, Vishnu Vinod played sensibly to top score with 35, which ensured his side would at least reach three figures. He became Kaul's last victim, who took six for 55 from 15 overs.
“The wicket has slowed down, but I thought all of us bowled well,” Kaul said. “And it felt particularly nice to dismiss a top batsman like Sanju with a ball like that.”
Kerala 121 in 37 overs (Siddharth Kaul six for 55) vs Punjab 135 for two in 40 overs (Jiwanjot Singh 67 batting, Mandeep Singh 41 batting).
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