Ranji Trophy 2018-19: Vinoop’s gritty knock guides Kerala to safety

Batting after winning the toss, Kerala ended the day at 291-7 with Vinoop doing the repair work along with senior professional Jalaj Saxena (68) and young P. Rahul. (77).

Vinoop S.Manoharan after reaching his half century on Friday.   -  Special Arrangement

Vinoop S.Manoharan made a  comeback to the Kerala side with a gritty unbeaten half-century (77 batting) and guided the side to a comfortable position against Delhi at the end of the opening day's play in the Ranji Trophy at the KCA-St.Xavier’s College ground here on Friday.

Batting after winning the toss, Kerala ended the day at 291 for seven with Vinoop doing the repair work along with senior professional Jalaj Saxena (68) and young P. Rahul. (77).

Vinoop, who is playing his first Ranji Trophy match in three years, blunted the threat from Delhi spinners on a tricky track that was helping slow bowlers even on the first day.

READ: Bowlers shine for Karnataka as Gujarat fumbles

The main threat was off spinner Shivam Sharma, who extracted bounce and turn from the College end, and had scalped Sanju Samson and Sachin Baby in his opening over to push Kerala on the back foot before lunch.

Vinoop, who came to the wicket at the fall of the fifth wicket with his side precariously placed at 105 for five, got into his stride quite early by smacking medium pacer Subodh Bhatti for three boundaries in an over. His footwork was assured against spinners and he punished the rare loose balls that came his way from spinners to score his runs..

Vinoop found an able ally in Jalaj Saxena (68), who rediscovered his touch at the right time, and the duo added a game changing 136 runs for the seventh wicket. However, Jalaj’s enterprising knock ended in the final over when he offered a tame catch to Sodhi at mid-wicket off Shivam Sharma.

Earlier, Kerala tweaked its batting line-up with Jagadeesh joining Rahul as the opening partner. But Jagadeesh didn’t last long as he played on to an incoming delivery from Aksah Sudan. The debutant Vathsal Govind (4) also left early, edging a catch to wicketkeeper Anuj in the first over from left arm spinner Vikas Mishra to have Kerala in trouble at 17 for two.

However, opener Rahul (77) was positive and he showed his intent by striking four boundaries from a Bhatti over. He also stepped out to loft spinners over the infield as Kerala scored quickly in the first session. But Rahul lived a charmed life as well as he was dropped twice – when on 24 by keeper Anuj off Bhatti and on 49 by Jonty Sidhu at shot leg off Mishra – but he made it count until he fatally played back to a ball from Sharma which didn’t bounce much.

The scores

Kerala first innings: P. Rahul b Shivam Sharma 77, V.A. Jagadeesh b Akash Sudan 0, Vathsal Govind c Anuj b Vikas Mishra 4, Sanju Samson c Shorey bt Shivam Sharma 24, Sachin Baby b Shivam Sharma 0, Vishnu Vinod st Anuj b Shivank Vashisth 24. Vinoop S. Manoharan batting 77, Jalaj Saxena c Jonty Sidhu b Shivam Sharma 68.

Extras (b-7, lb-10): 17

Total (in 89.3 overs) 291-7.

Fall of wickets: 1-12, 2-17, 3-78, 4-78, 5-109, 6-155, 7-291.

Bowling: Subhodh Bhati 15-1-73-0, Akash Sudan 10-2-36-1, Vikas Mishra 26-4-58-1, Shivam Sharma 26.3 overs 26.3-5-78-4, Shivank Vashishth 12-2-29-1.