Ranji Trophy: Kerala puts up a strong show

The maturity displayed by Bhavin J. Thakkar and skipper Rohan Prem helped Kerala to a position of comfort at the end of the opening day of its four-day Ranji Trophy match against Goa at the Brabourne stadium here on Sunday.

Kerala captain Rohan Prem remained unbeaten on 120.   -  V.V Subrhmanyam

The maturity displayed by Bhavin J. Thakkar and skipper Rohan Prem helped Kerala to a position of comfort at the end of the opening day of its four-day Ranji Trophy match against Goa at the Brabourne stadium here on Sunday.

The side, looking for its first win of the season, was 290 for 2 in its first innings at close as both Thakkar and Prem came up with scintillating centuries. In fact, it was day in which everything went as planned for Kerala after losing the toss and being put in.

The surprise here was the decision of the Goan captain Sagun Kamat to field first on what looked to be a perfect batting pitch. Though he seemed to be proved right as a tentative Vishnu Vinod guided a R.R. Singh delivery straight to his waiting hands at 12-1, the Goan side thereafter was to pay a heavy price as Thakkar and Prem got together to put Kerala back on the rails.

The right-left combine of Thakkar and Prem did take some time before consolidating as the duo waited for the pitch to ease out. And once they got their eye in, both struck to the task on hand brilliantly with their workmanship and non-chalant display.

Spinners Shadab Jakati and Amit Yadav were the ones left to bear the brunt of the continuing domination of the Kerala pair who engaged in a superb 232-run partnership. In between, Thakkar, who trains regularly at the same ground, got to his first century of the season and sixth overall in the championships while 30-year-old Prem completed his 12th career ton, the eleventh having come in the match against Haryana last week.

But having gone through a blemish-less innings lasting 200 deliveries, Thakkar (117, 14 x 4) was bowled after mistiming a sweep against Jakati. However, with Sanju Samson joining Prem, Kerala was successful in denying the Goans another scalp until the stumps were drawn. Prem was unbeaten at 120 (272 deliveries, 16 x 4) and Samson at 28 (48 balls, 5 x 4, 1 x 6).

Both Thakkar and Prem, naturally, were quite happy at the end of the day with the former commenting that it was a much-needed century while Prem, despite being tired, promised to soldier on again on Monday.