Ranji Trophy: Kerala takes 101-run first innings lead against Haryana

Kerala played the waiting game better than Haryana to gain the first innings lead on the third day of the Ranji Trophy group-C league match at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium here on Monday.

Sachin Baby scored a half century...   -  special arrangement

Kerala played the waiting game better than Haryana to gain the first innings lead on the third day of the Ranji Trophy group-C league match at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium here on Monday. On a bright sunny day when the cool breeze kept the atmosphere pleasant, Kerala overcame anxious moments in the afternoon as it overhauled the Haryana total of 303. The innings closed at 404, fetching Kerala a lead of 101.

Resuming at 170 for one, Kerala was in the driver’s seat but lost four wickets in the space of 64 runs after Bhavin Thakkar and skipper Rohan Prem put on 131 for the second wicket. It was soon after tea that Kerala went past group leader Haryana’s total thanks to half centuries by Sachin Baby and Iqbal Abdullah while wicket keeper Nikhilesh Surendran made authentic drives for 28 valuable runs.

Except for Sanju Samson who was caught in the slip by Yuzvendra Chahal off Ashish Hooda, the rest of the batsmen made useful contribution to the team’s cause. Jalaj Saxena was unable to bat, owing to an injury, and was ruled “retired out”. He, however, bowled the first over in Haryana’s second innings, after the umpires had sent back the overenthusiastic staff running to the pitch with the covers back, and allowed play for two overs.

Harshal Patel was rewarded for his lively bowling with four wickets, three of them were bowled and that included both the openers. Opener Bhavin Thakkar’s vigil for 270 balls fetched him 79, and put Kerala on the bright path to the first innings lead, for the fourth time in five matches this season. Kerala had collected three points each for the first innings lead against Jammu and Kashmir, Hyderabad and Chhatisgarh. It had lost to Himachal Pradesh outright.

Yuzvendra Chahal, who was second in bowling list with 22 wickets, bagged four more as he teased the batsmen with his clever variation of flight. Even though the conditions, which has resulted in the collection of 713 runs in 250 overs over three days, may not inspire much, it will be difficult to rule out a positive game on the final day, considering cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties.