Vijay Hazare Trophy: Sachin Baby guides Kerala to a six-wicket win

Left-arm spinner Akshay Chandran combined with off-spinner Jalaj Saxena to skittle through the opposition for 117 on a slow and difficult pitch to bat on.

Odishas Deepak Behera is clean bowled by Akshay Chandran (left) of Kerala at Airforce Complex Ground on Friday.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

The defeat against Andhra played on the mind of Kerala coach Dav Whatmore and he wasted little time in putting across a firm message that there was “no room for complacency.”

The team responded promptly and scored a six-wicket win over Odisha in the Vijay Hazare cricket tournament match at the Palam ground here on Friday.

AS IT HAPPENED

Left-arm spinner Akshay Chandran combined with off-spinner Jalaj Saxena to skittle through the opposition on a pitch which Whatmore described as “difficult.”

The ball came off slow and the low bounce tested the skills of the batsmen right throughout the contest. Kerala’s chase was orchestrated by skipper Sachin Baby (41) and Salman Nizar (31 not out).

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On a humid day, Kerala did well to win the toss. “We were aware of Odisha’s strength and were keen to erase the disappointment of losing to Andhra from a winning situation. We knew it was a long way to go and did well to learn from mistakes,” said Baby.

The spinners did an excellent job as Odisha struggled to put up a decent partnership. The best was a 48-run stand between Govinda Poddar (22) and Subhransu Senapati (26). Chandran accounted for their dismissal and Kerala did not relent. It established a strong hold and Odisha had no answer to counter a rejuvenated Kerala. “The surface helped the spinners. You had to apply yourself on this pitch. You could do it if you had the basics right,” maintained Baby.

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Kerala’s response began on a shaky note when a mix-up between Vishnu Vinod and Saxena left the latter run out. Whatmore frowned at the suicidal run out and must have wondered if his team was again going to mess it up. “I did not appreciate the batsman leaving the job to the next one (against Andhra). We gave away 30 runs too many. I wasn’t happy,” Whatmore spoke his mind after the win against Odisha.

“It was a difficult pitch,” Whatmore remarked. To his delight, Baby and Sanju Samson (25) added 37 runs for the third wicket before Baby swung the contest Kerala’s way in the company of Salman Nizar. “We bowled them out to a realistic total. The spinners were outstanding. It was essentially a matter of assessing the surface well,” Whatmore summed up the performance.

Brief scores:

Odisha 117 in 34.4 overs (Akshay Chandran four for 29, Jalaj Saxena three for 24) lost to Kerala 118 for four in 37.3 overs (Sachin Baby 41, Salman Nizar 31 not out).

Uttar Pradesh 250 in 49.2 overs (Upendra Yadav 85, Rinku Singh 58, Priyam Garg 41, Jatin Saxena four for 56) lost to Chhattisgarh 252 for six in 49.1 overs (Amandeep Khare 78 not out, Vishal Singh 52, Avnish Dhaliwal 50).

 

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