Racing against time, Kerala pulled off a memorable victory in the Ranji Trophy in Ranchi on Friday. Its bowlers had just 67 overs to take all the Jharkhand wickets and they did that with 5.4 overs remaining.
The 85-run win was fashioned by the Kerala offspin duo of Jalaj Saxena and Vaisakh Chandran, who was making his First-Class debut. Vaisakh took five for 57, while Jalaj claimed four for 56 for a match haul of nine for 131.
Jharkhand was set a target of 322 in 67 overs, as Kerala declared its second innings at 187 for seven, after resuming the final day on 60 for one. Opener Rohan Prem top-scored with 74 off 86 balls (4x4, 2x6). Left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem took a second five-wicket haul in the match to finish with figures of 10 for 246.
Kerala’s challenge was accepted by Jharkhand, which sent Ishan Kishan to open the innings, but that didn’t work; he was out for 22. Before long, the host was forced to change its strategy after losing wickets frequently and had to try to bat out time.
Wicket-keeper Kumar Kushagra (92, 116b, 12x4, 1x6) and Manishi (23, 70b) seemed to take their side to safety, but Basil Thampi trapped the latter lbw to raise Kerala’s hopes for a victory yet again. The eighth-wicket partnership was worth 119.
Then Jalaj removed Kushagra and the end was nigh.
Kerala coach Tinu Yohannan said it was one of his team’s best wins in recent times.
“We wanted to give them a target that was gettable for them as we knew that was our only chance to force a win,” he told Sportstar. “Both Vaisakh and Jalaj bowled beautifully and the spell from Thampi was crucial, too.”