Ranji Trophy 2023-24: Batting collapses and inconsistent bowling show Kerala the exit door again

Even though Kerala lost only once, its failure to win any away matches against lower-ranked teams ended its qualification chances.

Published : Feb 20, 2024 17:13 IST , Vizianagaram - 3 MINS READ

File Photo: Kerala’s top order, except Sachin Baby, flattered to deceive, with the batter amassing  more than 800 runs, including four centuries in this edition of the tournament.
File Photo: Kerala’s top order, except Sachin Baby, flattered to deceive, with the batter amassing more than 800 runs, including four centuries in this edition of the tournament. | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar / The Hindu
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File Photo: Kerala’s top order, except Sachin Baby, flattered to deceive, with the batter amassing more than 800 runs, including four centuries in this edition of the tournament. | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar / The Hindu

A passive Kerala side failed to qualify for the knockout round of the Ranji Trophy for the fifth straight season. The state came fourth in the Elite Group B with 17 points and finished 18th overall among 32 teams in the competition.

The team managed to win only one match (against Bengal). Even though it lost only once (to Mumbai), its failure to win any away matches against lower-ranked teams - Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Assam - ended the qualification chances.

Ruinous batting collapses, except against Bengal and Andhra, saw Kerala hand away the advantage to its rivals on a platter. The top order, except Sachin Baby, flattered to deceive.

“The truth is coach M. Venkataramana had little time to work with the boys before the Ranji season. We failed to seize our moments.”Vinod S. Kumar, secretary of Kerala Cricket Association

Sachin stood tall among ruins to amass more than 800 runs with four centuries. Apart from Sachin, Akshay Chandran (two centuries) and Shreyas Gopal (one century ) managed to score more than 200 runs for Kerala. Sanju Samson was unavailable for three matches and had a poor tournament with the bat.

The poor technique of the top-order batters was exposed in the swinging conditions away from home. Kerala lost early wickets in the must-win matches against Bihar and Chhattisgarh and the first-innings totals in both matches were inadequate to put pressure on the rival team.

RELATED: Resolute Andhra earns draw against Kerala in Ranji Trophy 2023-24

Deliberate slow batting for personal milestones was detrimental to the team’s cause. The declaration was also delayed to facilitate players reach landmarks, and it ultimately cost the team victories against Andhra and Chhattisgarh.

The bowlers came up with occasional sparks of brilliance. Medium pacers Basil Thampi, M. D. Nidheesh, N. P. Basil and Akhin Sathar bowled well in patches. Jalaj Saxena once again finished as the top wicket-taker with 34 scalps.

Kerala’s Jalaj Saxena finished the tournament as his team’s highest wicket-taker but his batting was a big let-down.
Kerala’s Jalaj Saxena finished the tournament as his team’s highest wicket-taker but his batting was a big let-down. | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji / The Hindu
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Kerala’s Jalaj Saxena finished the tournament as his team’s highest wicket-taker but his batting was a big let-down. | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji / The Hindu

But, apart from the spell (nine for 68) against Bengal, Jalaj struggled to create an impact and his batting was a big let-down. Illnesses affected Shreyas Gopal’s performance. Crucial catches were put down but bowlers couldn’t be blamed for not trying.

The team combination in some matches was baffling.

ALSO READ: Hyderabad clinches five-wicket win against Meghalaya in Ranji Trophy 2023-24 Plate final

“Overall, it was a disappointing show by the team. The truth is coach M. Venkataramana had little time to work with the boys before the Ranji season. We failed to seize our moments. We will seek a report from the team management on the performance,” said Vinod S. Kumar, the secretary of Kerala Cricket Association.

However, coach Venkataramana defended the team and said he was happy with the performance of the team.

“It was a good performance considering that we were lying sixth with five points after four matches. This team has tremendous potential but there are gaps which we need to work on. We have to be patient with the boys,” he said.

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