Kerala threw in a challenge but Andhra refused to take it and instead played it safely as Ranji Trophy Group C cricket match between the two sides ended in a draw at the ACA stadium here on Wednesday.

Sachin Baby made a quick half-century (60 not out) in the morning and played his part in a quick 59 run unbroken stand for the seventh wicket with Vinod Kumar as Kerala added 76 runs off 12 overs in the opening hour to set a challenging target of 295 for Andhra. Kerala declared its second innings at 302 for six.

But Andhra, after losing two quick wickets early in the chase never really attempted to reach the target and instead baulked Kerala’s chances with dour batting. Andhra in the second innings made 193 for four with captain G.H.Vihari remaining unbeaten on 53 off 224 balls. Apart from Basil Thampi who troubled the batsmen with reverse swing, none of the bowlers could create an impression on Andhra batsmen.

Andhra opener K.S. Bharat (73) was the vanguard of Andhra’s resistance until he was run out when a straight drive from Vihari ricocheted off bowler’s Sandeep Warrier hands on to the stumps. Bharat added 108 runs for the third wicket with captain Vihari and the stand consumed nearly 50 overs and took the match away from Kerala. After Bharat’s dismissal Ricky Bhui joined Vihari and the duo added a further 52 runs for the fourth wicket to shut down any chance Kerala had entertained. A fine piece of fielding by Sanju Samson ran out Ricky Bhui (44) but soon after the match was called off.

Andhra took three points for the first innings lead and maintained its lead at the top of the table with 25 points from seven matches. Kerala, which took a point from this match, has 16 from seven matches and chances of the team progressing to next round looks remote.

The Andhra camp was happy with the result but conceded that Kerala pushed it hard to earn the three points. "It is important three points for us. Kerala pushed us hard. Before coming to this match we wanted to win as many as points we could and we have succeeded in that. Now our focus will be on qualifying and we need to do well in the remaining two matches also," said Andhra captain G.H. Vihari.

Kerala captain Rohan Prem was disappointed but said his team tried hard to force a win. "Losing the toss was crucial. But I think we should have scored more runs in the first innings. Andhra played well as I said earlier they are a good side. We tried hard but they batted well, " he said. Vijay Kumar was named the match of the man for his nine wickets,