Vijay Hazare Trophy: Nidheesh stars in Kerala's thrilling win over Railways

M.D. Nidheesh emerged Kerala’s hero as the southern side pipped Railways by seven runs in a high-scoring Vijay Hazare Trophy Elite Group C match.

Sanju Samson scored a fluent 29-ball 61 against the Railways.   -  Shreedutta Chidananda

M.D. Nidheesh emerged Kerala’s hero as the southern side pipped Railways by seven runs in a high-scoring Vijay Hazare Trophy Elite Group C match at the Just Cricket Ground near here on Wednesday.

Chasing a mammoth 352-run target, Railways’ Harsh Tyagi (58, 32b, 7x4, 2x6) and Amit Mishra (23, 10b, 1x4, 2x6) had combined for a stunning 59-run partnership for the ninth wicket off just 23 balls to bring their side to the threshold of a famous victory.

But with just seven needed off four balls, Nidheesh (3/83) removed both batsmen off back-to-back deliveries to leave the railwaymen heartbroken.

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Midway through the innings however, the target had seemed too distant. There were half-centuries by opener Mrunal Devdhar (79, 80b, 9x4) and No.4 batsman Arindam Ghosh (64, 62b, 6x4, 2x6) only for the rest of the top-order to fail and leave Railways at 177/5.

But Saurabh Singh (50, 52b, 4x4, 1x6) and Karn Sharma (37, 30b, 2x4, 2x6) brought the side back into the contest with a 62-run stand for the sixth wicket. Then, Tyagi and Mishra nearly pulled off the heist, but it was not to be.

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Earlier, Kerala, which was asked to bat first, rode on yet another fine knock by Robin Uthappa (100, 104b, 8x4, 5x6) and fellow opener Vishnu Vinod (107, 107b, 5x4, 4x6). The two put on 193 runs at just over run-a-ball to give Kerala a solid foundation.

Sanju Samson then came up with a blitz, scoring 61 runs off just 29 balls, before Vathsal Govind (46 n.o., 34b, 2x4, 3x6) and Jalaj Saxena (13, 9b) accumulated 52 runs from the last four overs to take Kerala beyond 350.

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