Ranji Trophy: Kerala sights outright win against Services

Kerala, with 22 points, is fourth in the table behind Hyderabad (30), Andhra (25) and Haryana (25). A bonus point win and favourable development from the other outings will keep the team in the hunt.

rohan prem

Kerala will count on its skipper Rohan Prem, the team's leading run-scorer, to come good in a crucial tie against Services.   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam (File Photo)

Kerala looks to score an outright win against Services but playing conditions confront the team from south. Fog and smog are two factors that can crush Kerala's dreams of a slot in the knockout round as it takes on Services at the Karnail Singh Stadium here in the last league match from Wednesday.

Kerala, with 22 points, is fourth in the table behind Hyderabad (30), Andhra (25) and Haryana (25). A bonus point win and favourable development from the other outings will keep Kerala in the hunt.

A defeat for Hyderabad at the hands of Andhra and a similar result for Haryana against Tripura would pave the way for Kerala. Even a draw would impede Haryana’s dreams of qualifying.

Andhra has itself to blame after messing up in a chase of 233.

But Services is riding high on its victory over Chhattisgarh in the previous match in Mumbai. It was Services’ first win in the league this season but has no bearing on the qualification race. The century by Nakul Verma (156) and a 99 by Rahul Singh were the highlights of Services’ victory, not to forget the 10-wicket haul by seamer Diwesh Pathania.

"We have to look at the game positively," said Kerala coach Tinu Yohannan. "The pitch looks seamer-friendly and has good grass too. I am expecting the bowlers to dominate but the playing conditions play an important part. I am praying we get full day’s play right through the match," said Yohannan.

The >Sanju Samson episode may have left Kerala supporters disappointed as the youngster suffers a slump in form and faces charges of indiscipline. The team, however, has grown with the contributions from Rohan Prem (656 runs), Bhavin Thakkar (456 runs), Sachin Baby (374 runs) and all-rounder Iqbal Abdulla (363 runs and 25 wickets). Sandeep Warrier (23 wickets) and Jalaj Saxena (20 wickets) have contributed to the team's progress.



The teams:

Kerala: Rohan Prem (captain), Mohammed Azahruddeen, Bhavin Thakkar, Salman Nizar, Jalaj Saxena, Sachin Baby, Akshay Chandran, Vinod Kumar, Iqbal Abdulla, Sandeep Warrier, Basil Thampi, Vishnu Vinod, Monish Karaparambil and Athif Ashraf.

Services: Anshul Gupta (captain), Nakul Verma, Nakul Chauhan, Amit Pachhara, Shamsher Yadav, Rahul Singh, Vikas Hathwala, Vikas Yadav, Diwesh Pathania, Raj Bahadur, Sachidanand Pandey, Raushan Raj, Nakul Sharma, Soumik Chatterjee and Azaruddin Bloch.