Ranji Trophy: Kerala concedes first innings lead

Vijay Kumar again proved to be Kerala’s bug bear as his three wickets pegged back Kerala which was looking for quick runs in the second innings.

Kerala captain Rohan Prem in action against Andhra in the Ranji Trophy match.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

Kerala conceded the first innings lead but skipper Rohan Prem’s resourceful knock (88) gave his side a chance to force win on the final day of the Ranji Trophy Group C cricket match at the ACA stadium here on Wednesday.

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Kerala, which conceded a first innings lead of seven runs, was 228 for five at stumps on the penultimate day. Vijay Kumar again proved to be Kerala’s bug bear as his three wickets pegged back Kerala which was looking for quick runs in the second innings.

After conceding the first innings lead for only the second time this season, Kerala was left with no option but to play positively for a win. However, Kerala’s opening woes continued with Vishnu Vinod (3) edging Vijay Kumar to wicketkeeper Bharat.

But Bhavin Thakkar found his mooring early and he stepped out to loft Ayyappa Bandaru over long on for boundaries to show his intent. Bhavin and Rohan Prem added 69 runs for the second wicket with former scoring the majority of the runs. Bhavin completed his fifty by slogging left arm spinner Bhargav Bhatt over mid wicket for a six. But soon after Bhargav Bhatt trapped Bhavin leg before wicket for 56 and Sanju (7) lobbed a tame return catch to Vijay Kumar to continue his wretched run of poor form.

Azharuddeen was promoted up the order and he along with Rohan Prem resurrected the innings by figuring in a 106-run stand for the fourth wicket. Vijay Kumar had to leave the field due to injury while bowling his 11th over and his absence reduced Andhra’s captain G.H.Vihari’s options to attack. The defensive fields were set to stop the flow of runs as both the Kerala batsmen were largely untroubled by the bowling. Rohan looked set for a century but Sasikanth trapped him leg before against run of play.

Vijay Kumar returned late in the day to have Azharuddeen caught behind for 36.

Earlier in the morning, Kerala conceded the first innings lead for only the second time this season. Ayyappa Bandaru with a few streaky boundaries through the slip cordon did the job for Andhra after Vinod Kumar gave Kerala a glimmer of hope with his twin strikes which included the wicket of Ricky Bhui.