Skipper Rohan Prem’s 11th century set up a daunting task for debutant Chhattisgarh to win the Ranji Trophy Group C cricket match against Kerala at the Keenan Stadium here on Saturday.
After gaining a psychological advantage by the way of a 20-run first innings lead, Kerala led by its captain went on to put the rival attack to the sword and set a stiff target of 328 for its rival.
Kerala declared the second innings at 307 for two with Rohan Prem 123 not out (171 balls, 8x4, 3 x6) and Sachin Baby 70 not out (86 balls, 5x 4, 2x6) putting up an unbeaten 125-run stand for the third wicket. Chattisgarh survived some tense overs in the final session to reach 15 for no loss at stumps on the third day.
It was openers Bhavin Thakkur and V.A. Jagadeesh who set the template for the innings with their attacking opening wicket stand. Thakkur showed his aggressive intent right from the start by stepping out to medium pacers and lofting them over the infield. V. A. Jagadeesh, after overcoming a nervous start, played with confidence as Kerala put up a rare fifty run-partnership for the first wicket this season. Rohan, who arrived at the crease after Thakkur (37) failed to keep his drive down and was caught at mid on, was severe on spinners and never allowed them to strike a rhythm. Rohan swept and stepped out to play the big shots especially against Ruikar as Kerala wrested the advantage.
A calf injury forced Jagadeesh (45) to retire when the batsmen was nearing his half-century. Sanju Samson played a few sweet shots to reach a quick 27 before losing his concentration again and was bowled by Gupta. Sachin Baby joined Rohan and the duo with their brilliant partnership took away the match from Chhattisgarh. Sachin Baby was positive and played a few cheeky late cuts and also played the lofted on drive against spinners to score most of his runs. The duo changed gears after tea and added 72 runs off as many balls to enable the side cross 300 and set up a challenging declaration.
“The key was the good start which openers gave us. Bhavin Thakkur played his shots early to ease the pressure and rest of us followed the cue. I was happy with the way I batted and I think this was a good batting performance from all of us. Our aim was to set them a target of around 325. But we need to take quick wickets before lunch tomorrow to put pressure on Chattisgarh,” said Kerala captain Rohan Prem.
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