Vidarbha has every reason to be happy, having taken complete charge of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against Kerala at the Lalbhai Contractor stadium here on Saturday.



The third day’s action witnessed Vidarbha pile up pressure on Kerala before taking a vital first-innings lead of 70 runs, as the southern State crumbled to 176, and then put on 77 runs for the loss of one wicket in its second essay to have an effective lead of 147 runs.

Rajneesh Gurbani, brought into the attack for a third spell soon after lunch, came up with an awe-inspiring display of medium-pace bowling and ended with a flourishing haul of five wickets at the expense of only 38 runs.

Ranji Trophy Quarterfinals, Day 3: As it happened

This, of course, did not help Kerala from putting some rear-guard action and get on as it would have liked. But then, there could be no excuses on offer from its top-order with the exception of top-scorer Jalaj Saxena, all getting out to soft dismissals.

Resuming at the overnight total of 32 for two, Saxena and Rohan Prem did see off the first hour without any trouble. But things changed dramatically when the spinners were brought in.

MATCH REPORT: Day 1 , Day 2

The Vidarbha skipper Faiz Fazal also did a commendable job in marshalling his resources, using all three spinners – Aditya Sarwate, Akshay Wakhare and Karn Sharma in short spells.

This ploy of the rival skipper did force the Kerala batsmen, in full flow until then, to withdraw into their shell and the defensive tactics that they employed brought about their downfall.

Rohan Prem was out on 71, gifting a simple catch to Wasim Jaffer at gully off Sharma while going for a square cut, while the biggest blow came when Sanju V. Samson left at 115.

Sanju began aggressively but was late in bringing his bat down against Sarwate to be adjudged out leg before. Two runs later, Jalaj Saxena was dismissed. . He was unlucky with the decision it may have b substitute Salabh Srivatsava which the batsmen firmly believing that the ball was picked off the ground.

Kerala's skipper Sachin Baby was then involved in a 48-run stand with K.B. Arun Karthick before the two made their exit within a space of two runs, again a virtual gift to Gurbani, who thereafter, tore through the lower order.

Vidarbha, batting for a second time, was helped by a fine half-century by Faiz Fazal as Wakhare kept him company after the dismissal of Sanjay Ramaswamy. With two days still remaining, Vidarbha will definitely be fancying its chances of an outright win enroute to its first semifinal appearance in the prestigious event.