Ranji Trophy: Saxena puts Kerala on top

Jalaj Saxena took six for 50 to leave Jharkhand struggling at 200 for nine on Day One of the Ranji Trophy Group B match between the sides.

Jalaj Saxena (left) took the 13th five-for of his first-class career.   -  Special Arrangement/KCA

It was a day to cherish for Jalaj Saxena at the Kariyavattom Sports Hub on Friday, as he turned in a brilliant display with the ball for his adopted State Kerala to leave Jharkhand in tatters.

The opening day of the Ranji Trophy Group B match between the sides had the host calling the shots as the 30-year-old from Indore rattled Jharkhand and left it struggling at 200 for nine in its first innings with a haul of six for 50 off 29 overs.

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Play began after a delay of 91 minutes owing to heavy downpour of last night and early morning, and it seemed Jharkhand had gained much by winning the toss and deciding to bat first. But then, such thoughts were quickly dispelled by pacer Sandeep Warrier who got rid of opener Babul Kumar having the latter well caught by wicketkeeper Mohd. Azharuddeen.

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Jharkhand never really recovered from this early blow as Saxena joined the attack soon thereafter. He was on the spot right from the start, teasing the rival batsmen by bowling well into the corridor repeatedly and testing their patience.

Procession

Using the crease very well, bowling close to the wicket and wide, Saxena continued to taunt the Jharkhand pair of debutant Mohammed Nazim Siddiqui and Virat Singh. He had the latter caught by Monish at mid-off for his first success of the day. Thereafter, it was a virtual procession as Saxena kept up pressure and proceeded to an innings haul of five wickets or more for the 13th time in his first-class career.

Perhaps the only time Kerala look worried all day was when Saurabh Tiwary and Ishan Kishan got together to for a 52-run partnership for the fifth wicket. But then, Saxena was back to rescue for Kerala yet again, foxing Tiwary (22) to be stumped by Azharuddeen.

At stumps, Sunny Gupta (22 batting) and Samar Quadri (1 batting) were at the crease, denying Kerala success through the last three overs of the day.

Brief Scores
  • Jharkhand 200 for 9 (Kishan 45, Siddiqui 24; Saxena 6 for 50) v Kerala.