Ranji Trophy: Kerala on top after Day 2

Overnight pair of Sachin Baby and Jalaj Saxena put on 147-run stand for fifth wicket which eventually ended when Jalaj Saxena (79, 130b, 13 x 4) failed to check his intended off-drive and ended up giving a simple catch to mid-off off pacer Md Siraj in the 12th over of the morning.

Kerala all-rounder Iqbal Abdulla who scored an unbeaten century against Hyderabad on the second day of the Ranji Trophy Group C match at KIIT Stadium in Bhubaneshwar on Friday.   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

Iqbal Abdullah’s second Ranji century (157 batting 214b, 14 x 4, 6 x 6) was like rubbing salt to the injury for the Hyderabadis who put up a lacklustre display in all departments of the game as Kerala finished the second day at a commanding 506 for nine in 180 overs in the Ranji Trophy Group C match at the KIIT Stadium here on Friday.

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The pacers were erratic in the morning giving away easy boundaries as the overnight pair of Sachin Baby and Jalaj Saxena put on 147-run stand for fifth wicket which eventually ended when Jalaj Saxena (79, 130b, 13 x 4) failed to check his intended off-drive and ended up giving a simple catch to mid-off off pacer Md Siraj in the 12th over of the morning. Soon, Robert Fernandez was trapped lbw by left-arm spinner Mehdi Hasan to leave Kerala at 272 for six.

Just the kind of opening Hyderabad was looking for to come back into the game. But, Sachin Baby was patience personified, stayed on for some more time in compiling a neat 80 (209b, 8 x 4) before getting out to Mehdi, 15 minutes before the lunch break.

Hyderabad woes continued after the break as the fielders were not equal to the task in backing their struggling bowlers on a pitch where half-chances had to be grabbed. And, the team badly missed an off-spinner against a line-up which had quite a few left-handers.

That was the phase when southpaw Iqbal Abdullah displayed his batting prowess with some lusty blows – especially treating the spinners Mehdi Hasan and leggie Akash Bhandari with contempt. And, he was audacious enough to walk down to drive frequently against the pace trio of Siraj, Ravi Kiran and Chama Milind with ease.

No doubt, Iqbal was lucky twice – first on 48 when Ravi Kiran failed to latch on to a skier near the fence off Akash Bhandari and then on 97 wicketkeeper Kolla Sumanth failed to react in time to effect a stumping off Mehdi Hasan. Even K. Monish when on 14 was dropped by Sumanth off Chama Milind.

But, importantly, Abdullah and Monish went on to pile on the agony for Hyderabad with their 141-run stand for the eighth wicket which effectively left Hyderabad with only one hope – of taking the lead now with two days to go.

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