Ranji Trophy: Prem, Saxena take cautious route for Kerala

Rohan Prem and Jalaj Saxena batted dourly for a 98-run partnership as Kerala reached a modest 232 for three at stumps on Day One against Rajasthan.

Rohan Prem was the highest scorer of the day for Kerala, with 86.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar (File Photo)

Kerala batted dourly after choosing to bat in its Ranji Trophy Group B tie against Rajasthan at the St. Xavier’s-KCA cricket ground in Thumba. By stumps on Day One, it could only gather a modest 232 runs for the loss of three wickets.

Without any devil in the wicket, there was enough scope for strokeplay all through the day, but the second-wicket pair of Jalaj Saxena and Rohan Prem hardly showed any urgency to increase the run-rate. The decision to lay the anchor can be understood given the early loss of opener Vishnu Vinod but the gears didn’t change even after a fair recovery.

Vinod, the only replacement in the host side XI in place of P. Rahul, lasted just four deliveries before the Rajasthan skipper Pankaj Singh induced an edge that was caught comfortably by the wicket-keeper. There was at this juncture a need for Saxena and Prem to display patience and application to help their side overcome this early loss.

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However, even after getting their team to 50 within 11 overs, the duo seemed contended to frustrate the rival bowling, which despite its failure to get the breakthroughs as required was well supported by its fielders.

No hurry

The left-right combination forced Pankaj to try out as many as six other bowlers in the first session itself. When it seemed that the floodgates would open, Saxena and Prem were quite happy to get to their half-centuries with nudges and pushes for singles. Prem was put down surprisingly by Robin Bist off spinner Bishnoi soon after the southpaw had got to his fifty.

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Saxena was the first to be dismissed. He was stumped by Yagnik as he stepped out against Bishnoi after a 164-run stand with Prem. His 79 off 157 deliveries was studded with eight fours and two sixes. Prem (86) departed soon thereafter, with only four more runs added to the Kerala total. He tried to sweep Lomror to a ball that came in, missed the line completely and was promptly adjudged leg before. His 237-ball essay was laced with 10 fours.

Sanju Samson, the middle-order batsman, got off in a hurry before falling into a shell. He kept company to his skipper Sachin Baby; the pair saw to it that Kerala finished the day with no further damage.