A career-best knock by opener Nitin Saini, an unbeaten 152, saw Haryana ensure a draw after having trailed by 101 runs in the first innings in the Ranji Trophy Group C league cricket match at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium here on Tuesday. Jalaj Saxena did infuse some enthusiasm in the Kerala camp by taking two wickets, but a 145-run partnership between Rajat Paliwal (75) and Nitin Saini took Haryana to safety.
The teams closed the match with Haryana on 315 for three. It was the fourth time Kerala was taking the first innings lead this season and took its lead to 12 points, while Haryana added one to take its collection to 16. Being eighth placed in the table, it was a moral victory for Kerala to have done so well against the leader.
Sandeep Warrier, who took five wickets in restricting Haryana to 303 in the first innings, despite a plethora of dropped catches, was the Man of the Match.
It continued to be a setback for Haryana which had collected 15 points from the first three matches. It had lost the last match to Andhra in Mumbai. Kerala had done well in opting for bowling on a pitch that had a trace of grass which eventually proved decisive in tilting the balance. It was the 11th first class century for the 28-year-old Nitin Saini, who’s previous best was a score of 150.
He struck 17 fours in his 272-minute vigil. It was the second century of the season for him after the one against Services in the first match. Incidentally, he has remained unbeaten both the times.
With the match meandering to an inevitable draw, the individual milestones were the only point of interest for the sparse crowd which was charmed more by the Kerala players Sanju Samson, Sachin Baby and Iqbal Abdullah.
Mohit Hooda entertained the crowd with an unbeaten half century studded with four 6s. For most of the afternoon, when cricket was mechanical, the comments from the vociferous spectators was quite teasing for the players and
entertaining for the few listeners. “Why do you have a bat on hand?” was the query when the batsmen tended to pad the bowling.
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