Ranji Trophy 2018-19: Baby helps Kerala take giant steps

Wayanad has been a lucky venue for Kerala captain Sachin Baby. And as the team gears up for the Ranji Trophy semifinals against Vidarbha, all eyes will be on the skipper.

Sachin Baby has led Kerala from the front.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Nearly five hours after Kerala completed its historic victory over Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal, its captain Sachin Baby was still at the Wayanad Cricket Stadium. Against the backdrop of a setting sun and the blue hills, he jogged around the lush green round at Krishnagiri, all alone.

It may have been the greatest day ever for Kerala cricket and the happiest day of his life, but the celebration for Baby, it seemed, had to wait. Nothing was going to stop him from his workout.

It is quite possible that as he jogged along, he would have remembered the events of the past few months.

In the euphoria of Kerala’s maiden entry into the semifinals, the controversy that had dogged the team at the start of the season may now seem a distant memory. Nearly the entire side had revolted against him and in an unprecedented move, sought his removal from captaincy.

Some players were even banned as a fallout, but the timely intervention of former captain K.N. Anathapadmanabhan solved the issue. That was in September.

READ: Baby banks on 'brave cricket' against Gujarat

Four months later, Baby has reasons to feel proud about surviving what must have been a vexing time for him. It takes a strong will to overcome such a crisis, put everything behind and lead the team from the front. He has done that.

On personal front too, it has been a satisfying season as he is the team’s second leading scorer, with 479 runs.

Of course, he is blessed with one of the best bowling attacks in the tournament, but he succeeded in bringing the best out of them. He also set an example with his fielding. It was his direct throw that ran Parthiv Patel out in the quarterfinal. The Gujarat skipper’s wicket was the one Kerala needed badly.

Within a few days, Baby will return to the same ground, which has been lucky for him. This time, his team will take on Vidarbha in the semifinals, which begins on January 24. In Krishnagiri, Baby had made his first hundred against Hyderabad in 2014, five years after his first-class debut. And, he made it count with an unbeaten 200.

Kerala must be hoping Wayanad continues to be kind to Baby.