The inexperience of not having played at a higher level came out in the open loud and clear as Kerala let go the advantage that it had gained against Vidarbha on the opening day.
For a side which had its tails up, having forced its rival to the mat at 45 for three on Thursday, Kerala, mainly with its defensive tactics, was made to pay a heavy price on the second day of the Ranji Trophy semifinal at the Lalbhai Contractor stadium here on Friday.
Kerala, at the end of the day, was left struggling at 32 for two in reply to Vidarbha’s first innings total of 246.
Given the strong position it enjoyed, Kerala would have entertained the thought of ending the Vidarbha first innings as early as possible. It was really on the course through the post-lunch session as left-arm spinner K. C. Akshay and its outstation off-break professional in Jalaj Saxena virtually having the rival batting on knots.
Ranji Trophy Quarterfinals, Day 2: As it happened
It was a rewarding one too for the Kerala spinners as they left Vidarbha at 109 for six, having accounted for both the overnight batsmen Ganesh Satish, Karn Sharma and Apoorv Wankhade.
But then, on resumption, Kerala skipper Sachin Baby – who by his own admission goes by his intuition – brought in Basil Thampi instead of continuing with his spinners who were in full flight. This paved the way for a Vidarbha fightback through Akshay Wadkar and Aditya Sarwate.
Match Report: Day 1
The duo, in a fine rear-guard action for their side, put on 74-runs for the seventh wicket, what with Wadkar going on to make a timely half-century (53, 147 balls, 7 x 4) and Sarwate coming up with a stubborn 36.
The departure of the two batsmen helped Kerala back into the picture but it again was unable to hold on, as Sachin Baby went on to claim the second new ball after 93 overs when Vidarbha had already lost its ninth wicket.
Akshay Wakhare and Lalit Yadav made good use of this ploy by Kerala, engaging themselves in a 53-run partnership for the last wicket before Saxena returned to put the brakes, Vidarbha by then had scored 246 in 105.3 overs.
K.C. Akshay was the guiding light of the Kerala bowling with his first five-wicket haul, returning with figures of five for 66, while Saxena finished with three for 52.
In between, a freak accident caused by Sandeep Warrier’s return from the deep caused injury, a minor one though, to Basil Thampi, who
had to be led off the field, forcing Nidheesh to take over and complete the over.
Kerala, in reply, was 32 for two at the draw of stumps, losing Mohammed Azharuddeen, bowled out by Lalit Yadav, and nightwatchman Sandeep Warrier castled by Rajneesh Gurbani. There was at least ten overs for the completion of the day and it was again its inexperience which forced it to send in a nightwatchman at that stage.
Jalaj was batting on 13 and Rohan Prem on 5 and the pair will have a lot to do to help Kerala wriggle out of the tight situation.
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