Ranji Trophy: Haryana fights to save innings defeat

Kerala has a place in the knockout round for the first time since 1996-97 in its sights.

Ajit K. Chahal picked up yet another five-wicket haul for Haryana.   -  PTI

Kerala has put itself on the brink of achieving its objective of getting to the knockout stage of the Ranji Trophy as it left its Group B rival Haryana tottering to avoid an innings defeat on the third day at the Chaudhary Bansi Lal cricket stadium here on Monday.

The home side, facing a deficit of 181 runs, was 83 for five in its second innings, still requiring 98 runs to make the visitors bat again. This, after Kerala made 389 in its first innings. Night watchman Basil Thampi made a significant contribution with the bat, scoring 60 runs off 75 balls and helping Kerala up the ante after their progress had been slow on day two.

While Rohan Prem, suffering a ligament tear on his right hand, continued to be staunch in his defence, Thampi went after the Haryanvi bowlers. The cold wind blowing across the ground hardly bothered Thampi. He reached what was a well-deserved half-century in just 53 deliveries, plundering 14 runs of an Amit Mishra over. Prem, who had moved to his nineties, in between, however, failed to get the three-figure mark as he fell leg before to Amit Mishra for 93 (314 balls, 9x4).

Match centre

Kerala suffered again as its skipper Sachin Baby was bowled by Amit Mishra for a duck and Thampi (60, 75 balls, 10x4, 1x 6) too departed soon after; Harshal Patel taking his wicket.

Mohammed Azharudden (34), Salman Nizar (33) and M.D. Nidheesh (22 not out) made handy contributions lower down the order and ensured that Kerala gained a sizeable lead. Ajit K. Chahal was the pick of the Haryana bowlers with five for 90, while Amit Mishra finished with three for 106.

Kerala, in the event of a win, will be qualifying for the second round of this prestigious domestic tournament for the first time since 1996-97.