Vijay Hazare Trophy: Kerala trumps Chhattisgarh by six wickets

Jalaj Saxena displayed his all-round credentials with a match-winning show against Chhattisgarh to help Kerala triumph by six wickets in Group `B’ rain-affected match of the Vijay Hazare cricket tournament.

Jalaj Saxena, a stroke player who takes little time down to get down to business, adapted to the situation and executed shots on merit.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Jalaj Saxena displayed his all-round credentials with a match-winning show against Chhattisgarh to help Kerala triumph by six wickets in Group `B’ rain-affected match of the Vijay Hazare cricket tournament at the Ferozeshah Kotla, here, on Sunday. It was Kerala’s second win in three matches and Chhattisgarh suffered its first defeat in three contests.

Kerala, by opting to field, won a major battle even though Chhattisgarh opener Jatin Sahay Saxena’s aggression created early ripples for the fielding side. He raced to 20 with three boundaries before Basil Thampi made the first dent. At 56 for one, Chhattisgarh was doing well when M.D. Nidheesh struck.

The brittle middle order let Chhattisgarh down barring Amandeep Khare, who had played the decisive role in the previous match against Uttar Pradesh. His unbeaten 78 saw Chhattisgarh stun Uttar Pradesh in a last-over finish.

Saxena dealt Chhattisgarh a double blow. It was a critical stage of the innings as he accounted for skipper Harpreet Singh (17) and Manoj Singh (5) in successive overs to leave Chattisgarh in trouble at 84 for four. Left-arm spinner Akshay Chandran, who took four wickets in the last match, struck a vital blow for Kerala when he removed Ashutosh Singh, who batted 60 balls for his 21. Chandran added two more wickets to enjoy another good outing.

READ: Vijay Hazare: Unadkat, Uthappa script Saurashtra's win in rain-interrupted contest

Kerala’s chase was rocked at 21 when K.B. Arun Karthik, having missed the previous match, fell leg-before to Pankaj Rao. A second-wicket partnership of 82 runs between Saxena and Daryl Ferrario denied Chhattisgarh any chance of putting pressure on Kerala as the batsmen showed a wise approach by showing patience at the crease.

Saxena, a stroke player who takes little time down to get down to business, adapted to the situation and executed shots on merit. Six boundaries adorned his unbeaten 58 off 120 balls, while Ferrario contributed 33 off 84 balls with two boundaries.

The revised target for Kerala, 133 from 45 overs, was achieved with five overs to spare as Saxena hung around to guide the innings after a minor scare when

Sanju Samson (1) and skipper Sachin Baby (3) fell cheaply. There were no further alarms as Saxena and Salman Nizar (12 not out) finished the job in style.

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