Ranji Trophy: Debutant Desai dazzles, brings Gujarat close to victory

Debutant Sidharth Desai picked up brilliant figures of 6/80 to bring Gujarat closer to victory, with the side needing only 83 runs to win the Ranji Trophy tie.

Seventeen-year-old Siddharth Desai has had a dream debut, taking nine wickets for Gujarat against Kerala at Nadiad.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Gujarat ended an intriguing penultimate day with victory in sight. The host and defending champion needs just 83 runs with nine wickets intact to defeat Kerala in a Group B Ranji Trophy match at the G.S. Patel Stadium.

Gujarat ended day three at 22 for one, needing 105 to win, while Kerala needs nothing short of a miracle.

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The visiting side almost pulled off a miraculous recovery in its second innings though, from a stage when there were possibilities of losing inside three days. At 59 for four, still 40 runs behind and lunch still some time away, Kerala was in dire straits.

The dismissal of its best batsman Sanju Samson was a big blow; he was adjudged LBW to leg-spinner Piyush Chawla. He had looked in great touch. And of course, he is one batsman who could turn a match on its head with his explosive batting.

He had hit left-arm spinner Siddharth Desai – the best bowler of the match, for successive sixes, on either side of the wicket. His counterattack seemed to have made up somewhat for the poor start by Kerala, whose team management had sent in Mohammed Azharuddeend and Jalaj Saxena to open the innings (they batted at No. 6 and & in the first innings).

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Samson’s departure did not seem to have bothered skipper Sachin Baby, who grew in confidence and played some delightful strokes. It was his sixth-wicket stand with Arun Karthik – who had opened in the first innings – that brought Kerala right back into the match.

They had added 99 – the highest in the match for either side – when Baby (59, 118b, 157min, 8x4) chose to belt Desai over mid-wicket; he succeeded only in giving enough time to Priyank Panchal in the square leg area to judge a crucial catch.

Arun (69, 148b, 189min, 6x4, 1x6) continued to time the ball sweetly on a track that wasn't at all easy to bat on, but he found little support at the other end.

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He said Desai was the most difficult of the Gujarat bowlers. The 17-year-old finished with six for 80 and a match haul of nine for 170. No bad figures at all for a debutant. “It was almost like a dream,” said the youngster. “I wasn’t expecting to play Ranji Trophy at all; I was with the Under-19 team when the call came.”

Kerala 208 & 203 in 76.3 overs (Arun Karthik 69, Sachin Baby 59, Sidharth Desai 6/80, Piyush Chawla 3/66)


Gujarat 307 &  22/1 in 13 overs. (Samit Gohel c Baby b Chandran 9, Priyank Panchal batting 13, Akshay Chandran 6-1-12-1)


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