Kerala ground out a draw against Karnataka in the sixth round of the Ranji Trophy cricket tournament at the KCA-St.Xavier’s College ground here on Friday.
After conceding a first innings lead of 143, Kerala slumped to 31 for three as off-spinner K. Gowtham removed opener P. Rahul (15) and the reliable Rohan Prem (14) in quick succession. The surface offered enough help for the spinners and Kerala would have been in deep trouble if Shubhang Hegde at mid-on had held on to a regulation catch offered by Sachin Baby, on nine, off Shreyas Gopal.
Sachin made Karnataka pay dearly for the reprieve as he once again played a match-saving innings (37 not out) and added 55 runs with Vathsal Govind for the fourth wicket which thwarted Karnataka’s victory bid.
Gowthan struck at stroke of Tea by dismissing Govind (26), caught by Siddharth at gully, but Salman Nizar (4 not out) and Sachin played out 10 overs after Tea without much difficulty as Karnataka captain Mayank Agarwal agreed for a draw.
Earlier, in the morning, the overnight pair of B.R. Sharath and Hedge didn’t show any urgency to force the pace. Sharath, after completing his fifty, slashed at a wide delivery from M.D. Nidheesh and was caught behind by wicketkeeper Rahul for 53. Vaisakh Chandran gave Kerala some lift by cleaning up Gowtham cheaply.
But V. Vysakh joined Hegde and the pair pinched singles and scored the odd boundary to add 53 runs for the ninth wicket. Hegde completed his fifty and Karnataka declared the innings after Vysakh (17) was bowled by Sijomon Joseph.
Karnataka skipper Agarwal, who was man-of-the-match, said the wicket was challenging to bat on and his gameplan was to stay in the middle and punish the loose balls.
“Kerala bowled very well and it was not an easy wicket to play shots especially for a newcomer. The way Sachin Baby batted in the first innings gave us a fair idea of how to bat on this wicket. I had to work hard for my runs and I chose the right balls to hit. As a team we are happy with the way we are playing. at the moment. We had our chances after we reduced them to 31 for three if we had taken Sachin’s catch things would have been different. Overall it was a good performance from us.’‘ he said.
Kerala coach Tinu Yohannan said he was proud of the way his team fought back after being reduced to six for three.
“We will take all the positives from this match. We fought back and earned a draw against a strong side. So, I am happy with the team’s show.” he added.