Kerala notched up its third win of the 2023-24 Vijay Hazare Trophy by beating Tripura by a convincing 119-run margin at the Alur Cricket Stadium here on Wednesday.
High-flying Tripura, who had embarrassed defending champion Saurashtra recently, seemed poised for a repeat performance for a fleeting hour or two. After being put into bat, Kerala had collapsed from 95 for no loss to 131 for five.
But some fine rearguard action from the lower middle-order led by Shreyas Gopal (41, 38b, 2x4, 3x6) helped Kerala add a 100 more runs before a flawless bowling effort put paid to Tripura’s hopes.
The baby-faced 20-year-old Kerala pacer Akhin Sathar continued his fine show with a three-wicket haul (3/27) and was ably supported by Akhil Scaria (3/11).
The first to go was opener Bikram Kumar Das, who edged Akhin behind and wicket-keeper Mohd. Azharuddeen completed a fine low catch. One-drop Sudip Chatterjee was cleaned up by a quicker one from offie Vaisakh Chandran, and Pallab Das was trapped in front by Scaria.
The contest hinged on what the experienced duo of Wriddhiman Saha and Ganesh Satish could do. But Scaria had Saha caught behind before Akhin shut the door on Tripura’s face by dismissing Ganesh and the experienced Manisankar Murasingh across three balls.
Earlier, on a cool winter morning, Kerala openers Azharuddeen (58, 61b, 7x4, 1x6) and Rohan Kunnummal (44, 70b, 6x4, 1x6) blunted the Tripura attack in expert fashion. But speedster Bikram Debnath bowled a splendid spell (8-2-21-2) to bring the Northeast Indian state right back.
Prized among Debnath’s scalps was that of Sanju Samson, who was out leg-before. The Kerala skipper smashed his helmet and bat in disgust on his trudge back to the dressing room even as National selector S. Sharath kept a beady eye.
That was the lone discordant note in an otherwise perfect day for Kerala.
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