Kerala had to dig deep to stay afloat in the contest after slipping badly in the last session as the Ranji Trophy cricket match against Goa headed for an interesting finish at the KCA’s St.Xavier’s College ground here on Thursday.
After conceding a crucial lead of 46 runs, Kerala ended the penultimate day at 172 for six with an overall lead of 126 runs. Kerala’s senior players Rohan Prem (68 batting) and Jalaj Saxena (28 batting) added 44 runs for the seventh wicket to restore sanity after Kerala lost wickets in a hurry after tea.
The slump started when P. Rahul was bowled around his legs by Shubham Desai for 16. Sachin Baby (4), Akshay Chandran (4) and Sijomon Joseph (1) fell cheaply as the host crumbled to 124 for six from a healthy score of 112 for two. The ball was spinning and bouncing and both Mohit Redkar and Shubham Desai thrived under helpful conditions.
The runs came in trickle after tea but Jalaj Saxena was positive and took calculated risks against the spinners to ease out the pressure. Jalaj’s aggression rubbed on to his partner Rohan Prem who played with more assurance and the duo added crucial runs.
The post lunch session saw Kerala opener Rohan Kunnummal play with his trademark flourish, clattering boundaries from medium pacers to race to 34. However, he was snapped up by Suyash Prabhudessai at short leg off Mohit. Rohan Prem and P. Rahul continued in the same vein attacking the bowling as Kerala cantered at nearly five runs an over and went to tea at 110 for two.
Earlier, in the morning, there was early lift for Kerala as Jalaj trapped captain Darshan Misal in front for 43 and soon sent back Arjun Tendulkar cheaply in the same fashion. Ishaan Gadekar played steadily to compile his century but was dismissed soon after. But Kerala allowed things to drift as the last wicket pair of Mohit Redkar (37) and Shubham Desai (15 not out) added 36 runs which gave Goa a handy lead of 46 runs. Skipper Sijiomon field placing was defensive and there were a lot of gaps for the batters to exploit.
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