The dollops of talent in Sanju V. Samson came to the fore yet again as he, with a brilliant century, helped set Kerala to the path of a possible win against Saurashtra in the Group B Ranji Trophy match at the St.Xavier’s KCA cricket ground, Thumba, on Sunday.

It was an innings which showed the character in the young man, besides his skillful stroke play, as the home team benefiting from his whirlwind 175 and a huge 214-run fourth-wicket partnership with K.B. Arun Karthick (81) got to 411 for six prior to applying the declaration and setting a victory target of 405 run from a possible 105 overs. Saurashtra, in reply, was 30 for one at stumps on the third day.


Resuming at its overnight total of 69 for one, Kerala lost Rohan Prem (44) and then, Jalaj Saxena (44) at 151. Sanju was in good nick right from the start, cautious when it was much required, but all the same aggressive against the rival bowlers, whom he treated with utter disdain.

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Runs flowed as the Kerala vice-captain carried on nonchalantly, reaching his first half-century in just 41 deliveries. He, of course, did slow down thereafter but the class in him was there for all to see as Sanju with the help of Karthick continued to torment the rival bowlers and helped Kerala reach 212 for two at lunch.

Having got to his third consecutive first class century, Sanju soldiered on before carting both off-spinner, Jivrajani and left-arm spinners Dharmendra Jadeja and J.M. Chauhan all over the park, realising well what his side needed was quick runs. Sanju was finally out when he looked set for a possible double hundred, at 175 of just 180 deliveries, a knock which was laced with 16 boundaries and eight beyond it.

Karthick, though clearly overshadowed by the brilliance of Sanju after being promoted in the batting order, was nevertheless a critical contributor to the Kerala’s progress to 400, making 81 (132 balls, 7x 4, 1 x 6). Salman Nizar then applied the long handle with lusty hits before Sachin Baby declared at 411 for six off 92 overs, twenty minutes after tea.

Saurashtra made a cautious start through Snell S. Patel and Avi Barot before the latter was picked up nicely by Fabin Ahmed at forward short leg off Sijomon Joseph. However, Robin Uthappa joining Patel saw to it that there were no further reverse for Saurashtra till the end of the day’s play.