Ranji Trophy 2023-24: Kerala takes first innings lead despite Eknath’s century

Ajay Mandal’s dismissal allows Kerala to take the first-innings lead against Chhattisgarh in the Ranji Trophy match.

Published : Feb 04, 2024 20:42 IST , Raipur - 3 MINS READ

 K.D. Eknath (File Photo)
 K.D. Eknath (File Photo) | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

 K.D. Eknath (File Photo) | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

It will take a while for Ajay Mandal to forget his dismissal, which allowed Kerala to take the first-innings lead against Chhattisgarh in the Ranji Trophy match at the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Cricket Stadium here on Sunday.

Till he played the cheeky reverse sweep against Shreyas Gopal to be bowled for 63, the left-hander was in supreme control and had frustrated Kerala by adding 123 runs for the seventh wicket with centurion K.D.Eknath (118 not out)

Kerala in the end, managed to dismiss Chhattisgarh for 312 runs to take a 38-run first-innings lead. The visitor by stumps had extended the lead to 107 runs after finishing the day at 69 for two. With a day remaining and the wicket playing true, a draw is the logical conclusion.

In the morning, Akhin Sathar gave Kerala an early breakthrough as he had overnight batter Sanjeet Desai (56) caught down the legside by wicketkeeper Mohammed Azharuddeen. Chhattisgarh slumped to 145 for six when Shashank Singh (18) was caught, slog sweeping, by Akhin at the midwicket fence off Jalaj Saxena.

However, a stubborn Eknath dashed Kerala’s hopes of wrapping the innings quickly. The former Mumbai batter bided his time and brought his side back into the contest. Eknath found a willing partner in Ajay Mandal, who after a nervy start, settled down to play the role of the aggressor.

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Kerala bowlers erred by bowling too short to the batters on the slow wicket. The balls from medium pacers sat up to be hit, and both Ajay and Eknath put away the bad balls without any fuss.

The seventh wicket stand prospered and became threatening for the visitor when Ajay was dismissed against the run of play. But Eknath refused to be cowed down even as he lost partners at the other end. The wicketkeeper batter took on the bowling and indulged in a boundary-hitting spree. He spanked M.D. Nidheesh for four boundaries in an over and in the process, completed his deserved century.

The scores

Kerala-1st innings: 350Chattisgarh-1st innings

Shashank Chandrakar c Azharuddeen b Thampi 8, Rishab Tiwari b Jalaj 7, Ashutosh Singh lbw Nidheesh 31, Sanjeet Desai c Azharuddeen b Akhin 56, Amandeep Khare lbw Nidheesh 0, K.D. Eknath not out 118, Shashank Singh c Akhin b Jalaj 18, Ajay Mandal b Shreyas 63, Ravi Kiran lbw Jalaj 0, Sourabh Majumdar c Azharuddeen b Thampi 0, Ashish Chouhan b Nidheesh 0

Extras (b-1, 1b-9, w-1): 11

Total (in 103 overs): 312

Fall of wickets: 1-12, 2-16, 3-91, 4-91, 5-113, 6-145, 7-268, 8-269, 9-297

Kerala bowling

Thampi 24-4-87-2, Nidheesh 27-8-83-3, Jalaj 22-6-31-3 Akhin 15-1-63-1, Shreyas 13-3-26-1, Vishnu 2-0-12-0.

Kerala-2nd innings Rohan Kunnummal c Rishab b Ashish 36, Rohan Prem c Tiwary b Ravi 17, Sachin Baby batting 6, Vishnu Vinod batting 4

Extras (b-2, lb-4): 6

Total (for two wkts in 18 overs): 69

Fall of wickets: 1-51, 2-62

Chhattisgarh bowling

Ravi Kiran 4-1-18-1, Ashish 7-1-17-1, Ajay 6-0-26-0, Ashutosh 1-0-2-0.

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