Ranji Trophy: Advantage MP as Avesh, Kuldeep run through Kerala

After cleaning up Kerala for 63, Madhya Pradesh batsmen Naman Ojha and Rajat Patidar stitched an unbeaten 104-run stand for the third wicket to mount further pressure.

Madhya Pradesh pacer Avesh Khan in action against Kerala on Wednesday.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT


Madhya Pradesh, all fire and brimstone, brought high flying Kerala screeching to the ground to face the harshest of realities at the St. Xavier’s stadium, Thumba, on Wednesday.

The opening day of the Ranji Trophy Elite Pool B match entirely belonged to the visiting side, which initially shot out the host for a paltry 63 before ending up 98 runs ahead in the first innings for the loss of just two wickets. While it was expected that Kerala would not provide much leeway to its rival, given its superb performances through the last two rounds, it was just the opposite which occurred as the Madhya Pradesh pacers Kuldeep Sen and Avesh Khan put the side right on top straightaway, a position from which the home side could hardly resurrect itself.

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In hindsight, Madhya Pradesh skipper Naman Ojha should be thanking his stars, and Sachin Baby, as the latter won the toss and opted to bat. It was a decision which seemed to convey the confidence of the home side in facing challenges that could be posed by Madhya Pradesh. It proved to be faulty one.

Madhya Pradesh players appeal against KC Akshay towards the end of Kerala's first innings.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT


Kuldeep and Avesh used the morning conditions well. They found lateral movement with the ball and were successful in rocking the Kerala boat from the onset.

K.B. Arun Karthick and the in-form Jalaj Saxena perished without displaying any resistance.

Sadly, as the pressure mounted by the two pacers was sustained by the spinners, Mihir Hirwani and Kumar Karthikeya Singh, the Kerala batting line-up simply collapsed before being bowled out in the 35th over.

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That only three of the Kerala batsmen — V. A. Jagadeesh, Vishnu Vinod and Akshay Chandran — were only able even to reach double figures should be a sound illustration of the sway enjoyed by the Madhya Pradesh bowling brigade, among whom Avesh finished with figures of four for 8 and Kuldeep three for 17.

After cleaning up Kerala in the first over after lunch, Madhya Pradesh had all the time in the world to mount further pressure on the home side. And though Mohnish Mishra was trapped leg before by Sandeep Warrier early on, Aryaman Birla and Rajat Patidar saw to it that their side progressed without any hiccups.

Saxena was successful in breaking this partnership, but Rajat kept on going after being joined by his skipper and the two — by the end of the day — were still together with an invaluable 104-run stand for the third wicket that led to the home team players trooping out with sagging shoulders.

Clearly it was not their day.

Brief scores: Day I, Kerala 63 all out, A Chandran 16 not out; A Khan 4/8, K Sen 3/17; trails MP 161/2, N Ojha 53 not out, Rajat Patidar 70 not out; S Warrier 1/14 by 98 runs

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