A fine century by Robin Uthappa and a resolute 97 by opener P. Rahul helped Kerala to a commanding position on the opening day of its four-day Ranji Trophy Elite Group match against Delhi at Thiruvananthapuram's St. Xavier’s Stadium on Monday.
At close, the home team was 276 for three after skipper Sachin Baby had won the toss.
Having been beaten fair and square by Kerala in just three days last year at the same venue, Delhi was expected to come out all guns blazing.
But openers Rahul and Jalaj Saxena gave Kerala a solid start, sharing a 68-run partnership, forcing Delhi captain Dhruv Shorey to turn to his spinners on a wicket that offered nothing to the pace bowlers after the initial six overs.
As it Happened: Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Round 1, Day 1
Saxena was out first as an intended cover drive off Tejas Baroka instead saw the ball ricocheting off the helmet of the silly point fielder and being caught by Lalit Yadav at cover.
Rahul at the other end was slow to start with, but displayed tremendous character as he helped his side maintain a healthy run rate of well over three per over.
Uthappa, given his poor form in the recent limited-overs tournaments, seemed edgy as he joined Rahul. With the latter scoring at a quick rate, Uthappa played the role of sheet anchor as Kerala went into lunch at 124 for one.
After lunch, the 27-year-old Rahul shuffled too much against left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra and was adjudged leg-before, missing his century by three runs. His innings lasted 174 deliveries and was studded with 11 fours and two huge sixes.
Following the end of the 118-run stand for the second wicket, Sachin Baby joined Uthappa, who soon reached a confidence-boosting century. The duo put on a 90-run partnership before Uthappa (102, 221 deliveries, seven fours, three sixes) was caught in the slips off Pradeep Sangwan at the end of the day’s play.
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