Vijay Hazare Trophy: Kerala tops group, through to quarters

Kerala, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh won their matches, ending with 16 points apiece. Kerala’s net run-rate of 0.974 was better than those of Madhya Pradesh (0.485) and Maharashtra (0.104).

Sachin Baby

Sachin Baby in action.

On the final day of league matches that saw many twists and turns across the three venues in Rajkot, Kerala came on top. It finished first in Elite Group D, on net run-rate, and moved into the quarterfinals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy One-Day tournament.

Kerala, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh won their matches, ending with 16 points apiece. However, Kerala’s net run-rate of 0.974 was better than those of Madhya Pradesh (0.485) and Maharashtra (0.104).

Madhya Pradesh, which edged Chhattisgarh by three runs, qualified for the pre-quarterfinals on account of its second place. Maharashtra missed out, despite captain Ruturaj Gaikwad scoring his fourth century in five matches; the five-wicket win, chasing down Chandigarh’s 309 for seven, didn’t prove enough.

Kerala’s five-wicket victory over Uttarakhand was fashioned by a disciplined display on the field and a sterling knock, under some pressure, from Sachin Baby (83 n.o; 71b, 7x4, 2x6). Chasing 225, Kerala was in a spot of bother at 78 for three, when it lost two set batsmen in the form of opener Rohan Kunnummal (26, 36b) and captain Sanju Samson (33, 36b).

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But Baby added 71 with Vishnu Vinod (34, 25b) and 65 with Vinoop Manoharan (28, 27b) for the fourth and fifth wickets respectively to ease nerves in the dressing room. Fittingly, he played the winning shot, lofting off-spinner Deepesh Nailwal over extra-cover for a boundary.

Earlier, Kerala fielded and caught just about everything that the Uttarakhand batters offered. But for opener and captain Jay Bista’s 93 (114b, 6x4, 3x6), the side would have struggled to justify its decision to bat first.

It was his 100-run partnership with Dikshanshu Negi (52, 68b, 4x4) for the fifth wicket that lent respectability to the innings. Medium pacer M.D. Nidheesh was the pick of the Kerala bowlers, with figures of three for 25.

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